Saturday April 20, 2019

Hidden Digital Ads Push Children to Eat Fatty Food, warn Health Experts

Overweight and obese children are likely to stay obese into adulthood and more likely to develop chronic illnesses at a younger age

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According to the World Health Organization, children in Europe are the target of hidden digital advertising and marketing promoting fatty, sugary and salty foods that are damaging their health and adding to an obesity problem. VOA

London, November 5, 2016: Children in Europe are bombarded with hidden digital advertising and marketing promoting fatty, sugary and salty foods that is damaging their health and adding to the region’s obesity problem, World Health Organization experts said on Friday.

The researchers called for policymakers to do more to protect children from junk food advertising messages on networking sites, games — known as “advergames” — and other social media.

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“Our governments have given the prevention of childhood obesity the highest political priority, [yet] we consistently find that children — our most vulnerable group — are exposed to countless numbers of hidden digital marketing techniques promoting foods high in fat, sugar and salt,” said Zsuzsanna Jakab, the WHO’s regional director for Europe.

Parents are unaware

She said in the absence of effective regulation of digital media in many countries, children are increasingly exposed to persuasive, individually tailored marketing techniques that parents may underestimate, or be unaware of.

“Often, parents do not see the same advertisements, nor do they observe the online activities of their children; many therefore underestimate the scale of the problem,” said the WHO.

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About two-thirds of children who are overweight before puberty will be overweight in early adulthood, and an estimated 25 percent of school-aged children in Europe are already overweight or obese, said the report.

Overweight and obese children are likely to stay obese into adulthood and more likely to develop chronic illnesses such as diabetes, heart disease and cancer at a younger age.

Unhealthy foods promoted

Gauden Galea, a WHO Europe expert on chronic disease and health promotion, said allowing advertisers and the food industry to target children like this could have “huge health and economic consequences.”

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The WHO Europe report said that since there is little effective regulation or control over of digital marketing, children are often exposed to powerful and targeted online marketing via digital platforms that collect personal data.

Digital marketing can engage children in emotional, entertaining experiences and encourage them to share these experiences with their friends, it said, describing this as “a dubious cocktail when used to promote unhealthy foods.” (VOA)

Next Story

WHO Calls for Better Vaccination Coverage Against Increasing Number of Measles Cases

The United Nations agency, citing preliminary data, said that more than 112,000 cases of the preventable but highly contagious disease have been reported across the globe

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Steve Sierzega receives a measles, mumps and rubella vaccine at the Rockland County Health Department in Pomona, N.Y., March 27, 2019. VOA

The number of measles cases worldwide nearly quadrupled in the first three months of the year compared to last year, the World Health Organization reported Monday.

The United Nations agency, citing preliminary data, said that more than 112,000 cases of the preventable but highly contagious disease have been reported across the globe in the January-to-March period. WHO called for better vaccination coverage against measles, which can kill or leave a child disabled for life.

Over recent months, WHO said spikes in the disease have occurred “in countries with high overall vaccination coverage, including the United States … as well as Israel, Thailand, and Tunisia, as the disease has spread fast among clusters of unvaccinated people.”

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Public health authorities worry about outbreaks in communities where vaccination rates are low, fueled by a growing movement of people who view the MMR vaccine, mumps and rubella as dangerous. VOA

“While this data is provisional and not yet complete, it indicates a clear trend,” WHO said. “Many countries are in the midst of sizeable measles outbreaks, with all regions of the world experiencing sustained rises in cases.”

The agency said the reported number of cases often lags behind the number of actual cases, meaning that the number of documented cases likely does not reflect the actual severity of the measles outbreaks.

For three weeks in a row, U.S. health authorities have added dozens of new reports of measles to its yearly total, now at 555, the biggest figure in five years. Twenty of the 50 U.S. states have now reported measles cases.

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FILE – 15-month-old August Goepferd received mumps and rubella booster shot at a clinic at Children’s Minnesota in Minneapolis. VOA

ALSO READ: New York Takes Drastic Steps to Prevent Spread of Measles Outbreak

More than half of the U.S. total — 285 cases — have been reported in New York City. Officials in the country’s largest city last week ordered mandatory measles vaccinations to halt the outbreak that has been concentrated among ultra-Orthodox Jews in the city’s Brooklyn borough.

City health department officials blamed anti-vaccine propagandists for distributing misinformation in the community. (VOA)