While we all have a role to play in teaching children healthy habits, there is too much emphasis on parental or individual responsibility. Childhood obesity is influenced by a broad range of environmental, cultural, genetic, psychological, and social influences far outside of children’s control.
Only the state can address the big drivers of this phenomenon and is failing our children through weak policies that lack resources, targets or sufficient patrol of marketing tactics.
The Irish Heart Foundation is leading a campaign to lower the rates of childhood obesity and improve the future of children’s health.
Consulting with experts in the field, parents and young people, we developed a political manifesto to challenge the government to take stronger action to reduce child obesity rates.
Our proposals include:
The evidence is mounting to support digital marketing in particular as a major children’s rights concern, as well as the protection of privacy, identity and data processing. The IHF believes that marketing for unhealthy food negatively affects a broad range of children’s rights, not least their right to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of health and their right to privacy.
Nevertheless, the acknowledgement of the problem has not translated into effective Government action, with the exception of the publication of the Children’s Commercial Communications Code in 2013.
As part of its efforts to reduce childhood obesity, restrict junk food marketing to young people and protect children’s data online, the Irish Heart Foundation has been lobbying Government for regulation of marketing particularly in the online and social media space, where children can be directly targeted by junk food brands. You can read more about our work influencing the Online Safety and Media Regulation Bill here.
Our campaigners help us in various ways and in May 2019 they met with the then Junior Minister for Health Promotion, Catherine Byrne T.D. to discuss our campaign to ban junk food marketing to children.