Advertising junk-food on TV and the web, WHO recommendations


Junk-food advertising on TV and the web contributes to the epidemic of diseases linked to obesity and overweight from an early age. Therefore, here are the WHO recommendations.

WHO-Europe, the office representing the World Health Organization in the European macro-region, has developed special recommendations for monitoring. Member states should keep an eye on the marketing of HFSS (High Fats, Sugars and Sodium) foods, particularly where aimed at minors.

HFSS foods-in jargon, junk food or junk food-are those that do not meet the nutritional profiles defined at the WHO level. As overweight in children under the age of 5 doubled between 1990 and 2013 and is expected to double further in the next decade. Rigorous intervention is needed.

The European Parliament has in turn intervened, but with measures that are mild compared to the seriousness of the phenomenon. Which in our own small way we have tried to show, with some examples of the junk food social marketing that bombards our children and teenagers.

Advertising of junk-food, WHO Guidelines.

The WHO Guidelines therefore indicate a harmonized method for measuring the incidence of HFSS food marketing on television programs and digital media. In order to assess the actual intrusiveness of diseducational content through which the consumption of inappropriate foods for a balanced diet is promoted. In view of the introduction of strict limits, for public health needs.

The 2013 Vienna Declaration on Nutrition and Noncommunicable Diseases in the Health 2020 Context (1) is the starting point. Instead, the goals and pathway are as defined in the 2015-2020 WHO-Europe Action Plan on Food and Nutrition. (2).

Concrete needs, of social and economic relevance, against which the 12 years of work of the ‘EU Platform for Action on Diet, Physical Activity and Health’ have proved to be totally ineffective. Evidence ofBig Food’s inability to self-regulate, on the various fronts of marketing to kids and reformulating foods for health.

The self-styled social responsibility of multinational food industry corporations, even in this respect, has misfired. It is time for a change of course.


(1) Vienna Declaration on Nutrition and Noncommunicable Diseases in the Context of Health 2020, Copenhagen, 2013, at

(2) European Food and Nutrition Action Plan 2015-2020, Copenhagen, 2014, at on-plan-20152020