New tool for tracking junk food marketing looks to get governments moving on obesity
12 Sep 2011
Press release for immediate release
New tool for tracking junk food marketing looks to get
governments moving on obesity
- Manual for monitoring children's exposure to unhealthy
food and drink promotions launches worldwide
- Interactive TV commercials and child-friendly websites
targeted alongside traditional media
- Vital tool in the fight against obesity released ahead
of major UN summit on non-communicable diseases
Consumers International (CI) today
launches a unique step-by-step guide for governments and civil
society organisations wishing to collect evidence on the marketing
of unhealthy food to kids.
The Manual for monitoring food marketing to children seeks to expose the
multi-billion dollar promotion of products that are high in fat,
sugar or salt to children by the food and beverage industry. CI
hopes that the evidence gathered from using the manual can help
inform government health policy.
Recent examples of the kind of questionable marketing the manual
will target include:
- A KFC TV ad in the US which featured the 'MosquitoTone', a high
pitched noise designed only to be heard by children. Children were
invited to enter a contest to win KFC meal vouchers if they heard
the noise during the ad.
- The website for KFC's Chicky Club, the biggest children's
membership body in Malaysia, which pushes discounts on unhealthy
products directly to children.
- Nestlé 'fuel for school' TV ad in the Philippines which alludes
to increased academic performance from eating their high-in-sugar
Koko Krunch cereal.
The manual, which has been sent to health policy officials,
advocacy groups, and consumer organisations across the world, is
being launched ahead of the UN high-level summit on
non-communicable diseases (NCDs) in New York, 19-20 September.
The summit will highlight the current lack of concerted action
to tackle the shocking levels of obesity worldwide, and the impact
this has on rates of critical illnesses such as heart disease and
Worldwide, there are an estimated 170 million school-aged
children overweight or obese, while 43
million pre-school children already carry excess body fat .
The manual, which is specifically developed for health
authorities, consumer groups and other civil society organisations
in both the developed and the developing world, is a crucial tool
for exposing the scope and depth of junk food marketing. Such
promotions are seen by many as a likely contributory factor to the
global rises in childhood overweight and obesity.
The free-to-use publication, developed with financial assistance
from the Nuffield Foundation, is a
practical response to the recently developed WHO recommendations on
the marketing of foods and non-alcoholic beverages to children. Agreed by national health ministers in May
2010, the recommendations urge countries "to develop, implement and
monitor policies designed to protect children from the impact of
unhealthy food marketing".
By using the manual's monitoring techniques, which have been
designed and field-tested by CI over several years, researchers can
support the development of evidence-based policies regarding junk
food marketing to children.
The manual provides clear advice on how to set standard
definitions of marketing to children, including the categorisation
of 'unhealthy' food and beverages, as well as how to perform the
analysis and how to interpret the collected data. It details the
range of marketing techniques to help researchers identify subtle,
as well as conspicuous promotions. And it separates the primary
communication channels, providing guidance on particular areas such
as television, print, internet, outdoor advertising and school
Helen McCallum, Acting Director General of Consumers
"Companies invest millions in promoting their unhealthy
products to children, using traditional advertising and a range of
more subtle techniques online and in schools. This manual is a
small, but significant, step in exposing the junk food industry's
efforts to influence our children's dietary choices.
"As health ministers gather ahead of the UN summit in New
York, we call on governments and civil society organisations to use
this manual to help inform health policies that can have a real
impact on the rising levels of obesity. We need to work together to
create ambitious policies that will really tackle this major
contributor to non-communicable diseases like type 2 diabetes and
Notes to Editors
 Consumers International (CI) is the
only independent global campaigning voice for consumers. With over
220 member organisations in 115 countries, we are building a
powerful international consumer movement to help protect and
empower consumers everywhere.
Consumers International is a not-for-profit company limited by
guarantee, registered in England and Wales (No. 4337865). CI is
also a registered UK charity (No.1122155). www.consumersinternational.org
 Manual for monitoring food
marketing to children: www.consumersinternational.org/foodmanual
 KFC 'MosquitoTone' press release
(Accessed 8 September 2011).
 KFC Chicky Club website www.kfc.com.my/kids/chicky-club.html
(Accessed 8 September 2011). KFC Chicky Club's position as
Malaysia's largest children's club is noted in the Malaysian Book
of Records 2008 and referenced in CI's Junk Food Trap
report from the same year. /media/540310/junk_food_trap.pdf
 Nestlé Fuel for School TV
(Accessed 8 September 2011).
 United Nations high-level meeting on
non-communicable disease prevention and control www.who.int/nmh/events/un_ncd_summit2011/en/
 Boyd A Swinburn et al,The global
obesity pandemic: shaped by global drivers and local environments,
The Lancet, Volume 378, Issue 9793 (804 - 814),.August 2011.
 World Health Organization: www.who.int/dietphysicalactivity/childhood/en/
 The Nuffield Foundation is an
endowed charitable trust that aims to improve social well-being in
the widest sense. It funds research and innovation in education and
social policy, and also works to build capacity in education,
science and social science research. The Nuffield Foundation has
funded this project, but the views expressed are those of the
authors and not necessarily those of the Foundation. More
information is available at www.nuffieldfoundation.org
 WHO recommendations on the
marketing of foods and non-alcoholic beverages to children
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