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Campaign launched to address childhood obesity

Ljubljana, 6 February - Despite the decreasing trend in childhood obesity in Slovenia, the share of obese children still remains high and the national healthcare authorities have urged TV stations to limit the advertising of food during TV programmes for children.

Ljubljana
Igor Pravst of the Nutrition Institute speaks to the press about trends in childhood obesity
Photo: Bor Slana/STA

Ljubljana
Mojca Gabrijelčič Blenkuš of the National Public Health Institute (NIJZ) speaks to the press about trends in childhood obesity
Photo: Bor Slana/STA

Ljubljana
A press conference of the health Ministry, the National Public Health Institute and the Nutrition Institute about trends in childhood obesity
Photo: Bor Slana/STA

Ljubljana
Marjeta Recek the Health Ministry speaks to the press about trends in childhood obesity
Photo: Bor Slana/STA

The Health Ministry and the National Public Health Institute (NIJZ) have issued guidelines to TV stations in Slovenia to create they own rules for protecting children from advertising of unhealthy food.

According to the NIJZ, children in Slovenia are exposed to a wide range of opportunities for excessive energy intake while they spend too little energy.

Various factors contribute to this situation, including TV advertising, which results in overeating and, consequently obesity, representatives of the institute said at a press conference on Monday.

Marjeta Recek of the Health Ministry explained that TV stations had six months to coordinate and create their internal rules in line with the relevant law.

However, the rules, which in accordance with the law also need to be published, have been sent to the Agency for Communication Networks and Services (AKOS) only by two broadcasters.

"The guidelines are the first, but a very important step towards reducing the exposure of children to advertisements which encourage the consumption of sweet, fatty and salty foods," Recek stressed.

According to a study commissioned by the NIJZ, the share of obese children aged between 7 and 14 increased between 1993 and 2010 from 17% to 25%. Between 2011 and 2016, the share dropped by two percentage points but remains high.

The problem of TV advertising of food to children is also emphasised by a study by the Nutrition Institute involving 93,000 food advertisements in a one-year period.

Mainly sweets are being advertised when children between the age of 4 and 14 are watching television, Igor Pravst of the institute told the press.

According to the study, 96% of food advertisements did not meet the requirements of the World Health Organisation (WHO) for child viewers and 77% of ads were related to sweets, whose advertising to children is not recommended, regardless of their nutrient content.

The Consumer Association of Slovenia has also joined the campaign, with its president Breda Kutin expressing concern about the advertising of "food with unhealthy nutrient profile."

"Children need to be protected from such advertising," said Kutin, calling for effective measures to reduce childhood obesity.

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© STA, 2017