Hidden digital ads pushing children to eat fatty food, health experts warn

Kate Kelland

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.

“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.

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.

Read more: http://www.reuters.com/article/us-health-food-who-idUSKBN12Z1P5