Calling on The European Union to Effectively Regulate Food Marketing

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The Law and Non-Communicable Diseases Unit at the University of Liverpool has published a policy briefing note jointly with the European Heart Network on the marketing of food high in fat, sugar or salt (HFSS food). This note is intended to contribute to the debates surrounding the EU’s forthcoming review of Directive 2010/13 on audiovisual media services (AVMSD) in 2016.

Over the past fifteen years, evidence has shown that the marketing of HFSS food influences children’s preferences, purchase requests and consumption patterns. Despite growing childhood overweight and obesity rates, and the extensive marketing of HFSS food to children, the European Union has – so far – only encouraged self-regulatory approaches, relying on food and advertising industry commitments to limit the exposure of children to HFSS food marketing.

Our briefing note shows why this current hands-off policy is neither conducive to a high level of consumer protection nor strengthens the European internal market, and explains why it has prevented EU Member States from upholding their international commitments. In line with its Treaty obligations, it calls on the EU to revise the AVMSD in order to ensure a high level of public health, consumer protection and the protection of children’s rights. In particular, it urges the EU to ban all forms of HFSS food marketing to children falling within the scope of its conferred powers, including a complete prohibition on all audiovisual commercial communications for HFSS food on television between 6am and 9pm.  

This work is a continuation of the research undertaken by Professor Amandine Garde, with Oliver Bartlett, Nikhil Gokani and other colleagues in the Law and NCD Unit, on the role that legal instruments can (and should) play in preventing non-communicable diseases in Europe and beyond.

University of Liverpool EHN Food Marketing Brief.


The previous press release on the WHO Course we organised in Amman in June:

Forthcoming lecture:

The EHN website: