Child obesity plan must include legal action on junk food advertising and discounts, say MPsBMJ 2018; 361 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.k2398 (Published 30 May 2018) Cite this as: BMJ 2018;361:k2398
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In the UK, on 30 May, MPs emphasized “the need for childhood obesity to be seen as everyone’s business.”(1) The report is not only “clear and ambitious” but also and mainly a most comprehensive plan. Accordingly, O’Dowd had not enough room for measures of the plan(1). For example, chapter 8, about labelling, highlighted, “The BMA has repeatedly called for a consistent approach to food labelling, and supports a mandatory traffic light approach to displaying nutritional information.”
In France, on 27 May, MPs, voting on the law about “Agriculture and Foods”, did not make the “Nutri-Score” labeling system mandatory on adverts for food products (2). The Nutri-Score’s selection and implementation as a voluntary front-of-pack labelling system itself was a 4-year long battle against vested interests in which public health appeared to have prevailed (3), but visibly the frontline has only been displaced.
The introduction of Nutri-Score on adverts would have ensured its visibility – and, while on-pack labeling cannot be mandatory in the EU framework (4), mandatory labeling on adverts actually can.
The amendment – initially supported by 80 MPs – was rejected. Only 18 voted for it!
This was thanks to an apparent mixing up of on pack and advert labelling in EU regulations by the secretary of agriculture and to some MPs advocating for ‘consumers’ individual responsibility’ or ‘self-regulation’.
The leaders of the charge were not only agro-industry, but also the CEOs of the main television channels who appealed to the Prime Minister opposing the amendment and reminding him the weight of the food sector in advertising: food is the first investor, with more than 650M€ a year. Voting the amendment, they contended, not only would reduce their funding, but would also directly imperil 130.000 employments in the sector (5).
French MPs appear more sensitive to the health of media groups than that of their citizens. Pity...
1 O’Dowd A. Child obesity plan must include legal action on junk food advertising and discounts, say MPs. BMJ 2018;361:k2398
2 Anonymous. [Nutri-score and advertising: the amendment of Isère’s MP Olivier Véran is rejected]. Place Gre’net 28 May 2018. Available at https://www.placegrenet.fr/2018/05/28/nutri-score-publicite-lamendement-... Accessed 6 June 18.
3 Julia C, Etilé F, Hercberg S. Front-of-pack Nutri-Score labelling in France: an evidence-based policy. Lancet Public Health 2018;3:e164.
4 Regulation (EU) No 1169/2011 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 25 October 2011 on the provision of food information to consumers. Available at https://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/en/ALL/?uri=CELEX:32011R1169 Accessed 6 June 18.
5 Vicuña M, Gaspar R. [France Télés, TF1, M6 et Canal, lobbyists for junk food]. Arrêt sur images. 23 May 2018. Available at https://www.arretsurimages.net/articles/france-teles-tf1-m6-et-canal-lob... Accessed 6 June 18.
Competing interests: AB is a member of the scientific council at Public Health France and of the High Council of Public Health (DoH). SH chairs the Steering Committee of the French Nutrition and Health Program.