The laws that protect children from digital adverts regarding junk food have been claimed insufficient. According to health experts it could lead to children suffering from diseases such as heart diseases, diabetes, and cancer.
A recent World Health Organization (WHO) report states that policymakers need to take some action and address digital marketing so that youngsters are provided with some protection against such a phenomenon. The report says that children are being exposed to foods that are high in sugar, salt, and fat while their parents have no clue about the highly engaging techniques being used in related adverts. The report also explained that the existing rules regarding adverts of unhealthy food only applied to the younger children and weren’t seem to be stuck on various social media platforms.
According to experts, allowing the marketing to continue as it does could cause cardiovascular diseases in children when they grow older.
WHO member Dr. Gauden Galea explained that there is a high chance that children that are overweight before they hit puberty will also stay overweight in their early adulthood. Consequently, the future for these children appears to be grim because obesity and being overweight are the main factors that contribute to cancer, diabetes, and cardiovascular diseases.
Permitting the food industry and the advertisers to market such products that are high in sugars, salts, and fats to children via digital platforms with insufficient regulations can have grave consequences not only in terms of overall health but also in terms of the economy.
WHO reports also found that companies made use of different tactics like device fingerprinting, zombie cookies, and geo-locations. The reports also found that these methods allow the food companies, the marketers, and the digital platforms to create an extensive database of people that use the internet, including children.
One study by the British Heart Foundation discovered that a total of 100 websites of food and drinks which were famous among children were 80% full of those products that were not allowed to be marketed on television to youngsters according to the regulations of UK broadcast. The foundation also discovered that the products had been marketed online in such a manner which made them attractive in the children’s eyes. The key methods that the foundation found were animations, cartoons, games, competitions, and downloadable content. The study concluded that the existing rules are quite insufficient in order to deal with the challenges faced in this field.
WHO regional director, Dr. Zsuzanna Jakab states that various governments of Europe have given the highest political priority to the prevention of obesity in children. Dr. Gauden Galea also states that the most vulnerable group, the children, are most commonly the victims of numerous hidden techniques of digital marketing that promote foods that are high in salt, fat, and sugar. Parents might underestimate or might not be aware of the harmful impact that digital marketing has on their children, but the report by WHO outlines all of the effects clearly.
Policymakers need to identify the new threats that have risen from digital marketing and need to act accordingly in order to protect children from possible lifelong health ailments.