Child obesity is a serious problem that continues to plague countries around the world. Now a ban on advertising junk food has been put in place in hopes of changing those numbers.

According to the World Health Organization, 39 million children under the age of five were overweight or obese in 2020. WHO data from 2016 shows that over 340 million children between the ages of five and 19 were overweight or obese. That’s more than the population of the United States (which, by the way, is projected to have an obesity rate of 50% by 2030).

Nations have been trying to address this problem for years, and child obesity is now on the rise. It all depends on a healthy diet, but the medical world is frustratingly having a hard time convincing families to change their eating habits. The fact that obesity can lead to ill health and even death has not motivated people to change their destructive habits.

In the UK, more than 60% of the adult population is overweight or over, according to the National Health Service obese, and the UK has earned the honor of being the sixth most obese nation in the world. The NHS estimates that 10% of four and five year olds in the UK are obese and that the percentage increases with age.

But the UK government is trying to address the problem. To keep children away from unhealthy foods and keep Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s pledge to tackle the growing obesity crisis, officials intend to limit junk food advertising. In fact, they have said that from the end of 2023, TV channels (including on-demand) will not be allowed to broadcast advertising of foods high in fat, sugar and salt before 9:00 p.m.

The ban extends to TV Advertisement for breakfast cereals, yogurt, ready meals, chicken nuggets and fish in batter. The UK Department of Health said honey, olive oil, avocados and marmite would be exempted from the ban because these items are not considered to be a significant contributor to childhood obesity. Companies with fewer than 250 employees such as curry shops, pizzerias and candy stores will not be affected by the new restrictions.

Will other countries follow the UK’s lead? That remains to be seen. But the conversation started in Canada, where a number of nutritionists and food policy experts have suggested that banning the advertising of junk food wouldn’t have much of an impact on Canadians’ eating habits. However, the experts made it clear that the ban would not hurt and that it could be successful if combined with other measures to promote healthy eating.

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