, Volume 31, Issue 1, pp 25-44
Date: 16 Jan 2008

Food Advertising and Obesity Prevention: What Role for the European Union?

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When the Television Without Frontiers Directive (TVWF Directive) was first adopted in 1989, there was very little discussion on how food advertising should be regulated at Community level. However, things have changed as a result of rising levels of obesity in all EU Member States. Consequently, several stakeholders have suggested that the advertising of unhealthy food to children should be restricted. This article analyses whether and how, bearing the obesity epidemic in mind, the European Union could regulate the marketing of food high in fat, sugar and salt to children (HFSS food). It starts by presenting the evidence supporting such regulation. It then focuses on the contribution which the TVWF Directive and the Audiovisual Media Services Directive (AVMS Directive) could make to the debate. It finally looks at the broader regulatory framework by discussing their relationship with other instruments of Community law relating to food advertising, and in particular the Unfair Commercial Practices Directive (UCP Directive) and the recently adopted Regulation on nutrition and health claims made on foods.