Spain’s Minister of Consumer Affairs, Alberto Garzón, has outlined his plans to ban all junk food adverts targeting children under the age of 16.
The minister said the government would look to implement strict guidelines based on nutritional profiles set out by the World Health Organisation in order to combat the country’s childhood obesity crisis.
According to a 2019 study by the Spanish Nutrition and Food Safety Agency (AESAN), over 40% of Spanish children between the ages of 6 and 9 are over their ideal weight. A further 23% are overweight with more than 17% considered to be obese.
This is why Garzón insists that it is a problem that the country needs to tackle now and regulate the advertising of junk food similar to other countries such as Portugal, Norway and the UK.
The new legislation, which would still need to be approved by the Spanish government, would determine which products could and could not be shown on TV, radio, internet, social media, cinema, newspapers and smartphone apps.
The ban which is expected to come into force during 2022 would prohibit the advertising of certain sugary products such as chocolate, energy bars, pastries, fizzy drinks, ice creams, desserts and juices among others.
Under the new legislation, unhealthy foods and drinks would not be allowed to be broadcast at specific times of the day such as just before, during or after children’s TV shows or channels that are specifically for younger audiences.
Smartphone apps aimed at the under 16s will also be targeted as will advertising at cinemas where the movies are for under 16s.
Print media such as magazines that target children will also be prohibited from advertising junk food.
In a tweet, Garzón said, “Our children are very vulnerable to advertising and it is our obligation to protect them.”
Nuestros niños y niñas son personas muy vulnerables frente a la publicidad y es nuestra obligación protegerles.— Alberto Garzón???? (@agarzon) October 28, 2021
Hoy anunciamos que, desde el Ministerio de @consumogob, limitaremos los anuncios de alimentos y bebidas perjudiciales para su salud. pic.twitter.com/Usv8VEdUAG
However, the proposals have already caused controversy, especially with the Spanish Federation of Food and Drink Industries (FIAB) who said they were “outraged” by the plans, as they had been working closely with the ministry for a year to update ethical practices in advertising, which included “voluntarily offering to reduce more than 75% of the advertising aimed at children”.
In a statement, FIAB Director-General Mauricio Garcia de Quevedo said, “We believe that food and drink manufacturers are being gratuitously and unjustifiably attacked” saying that obesity and other diseases are due to many factors including a sedentary lifestyle and a lack of healthy lifestyle habits.