Urgent need to ban digital junk food marketing to children

By June Shannon Policy News   |   3rd Jun 2021

The Irish Heart Foundation addresses Joint Oireachtas Committee on the dangers of junk food marketing

The Irish Heart Foundation has told a Joint Oireachtas committee that 85,000 children across the island of Ireland will die prematurely because of childhood obesity.

Addressing the Joint Committee on Tourism, Culture, Arts, Sport, and Media yesterday (Wednesday, 02 June) Kathyrn Reilly, Policy Manager with the Irish Heart Foundation, called for the new Online Safety and Media Regulation Bill to include a ban on junk food marketing to children across all digital platforms.

In her presentation to the Oireachtas Committee, she said that digital marketing and the mechanisms that fuel it were “a real and significant threat to children”.

Junk food marketing plays a causative role in childhood obesity and the Irish Heart Foundation has long called for regulation of digital marketing particularly in the online and social media space, where children can be directly targeted by junk food brands.

The Irish Heart Foundation’s parents’ Jury voiced its support for the proposed ban on junk food marketing to children across all digital platforms and handed in a letter of support for this ban to the Oireachtas Media Committee outside the Dáil yesterday.

Junk food marketing plays a causative role in childhood obesity

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The Irish Heart Foundation’s Parents’ Jury aims to help mobilise parents’ voices to be heard as part of the Stop Targeting Kids Campaign, initially speaking out on the nature of junk food marketing to children, with further opportunities to support Irish Heart Foundation’s work tackling child obesity.

In November 2019 the Irish Heart Foundation launched its ground-breaking childhood obesity manifesto that aims to cut the rate of childhood obesity in Ireland by half by 2030.

It is estimated that overweight and obesity will be responsible for the deaths of 85,000 children on the island of Ireland and currently, children as young as eight are presenting with high blood pressure while some teenagers have a heart health age of 60.

The manifesto entitled ‘The Future for our children’s health- A Childhood Obesity Manifesto’, was developed by the Irish Heart Foundation in conjunction with leading obesity experts, parents, and young people and makes a total of 58 recommendations under 12 separate headings.

The recommendations include making tackling childhood obesity a national health priority, a ban on all unhealthy food and drink marketing to under 18s as well as a ban on the sale of junk food in schools and a need to change the built environment to promote healthier and more active lives.

For more information on our childhood obesity campaign please see here.

You can read more about the Irish Heart Foundation’s ‘Stop Targeting Kids’ campaign, which is calling for a ban on junk food marketing to children here, and we also welcome you to sign our petition here.

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child health childhood obesity digital junk food marketing stop targeting kids

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