Singapore - Fourteen of Singapore’s leading food and beverage companies have today pledged to change the way they advertise to children. This Responsible Advertising to Children Pledge is the first of its kind in Singapore and forms part of an ongoing commitment by the food and beverage industry to support healthy, active lifestyles.
Pledge signatories Coca-Cola, Ferrero, General Mills, Kellogg’s, Kerry, Mars, McCain, McDonald’s, Mondelēz, Nestlé, Pepsico, FrieslandCampina, Suntory and Unilever have agreed to only advertise products that meet agreed nutritional criteria based on accepted scientific evidence or applicable national and international dietary guidelines to children under 12 years of age or not advertise to children under 12 years of age at all.
They have also committed not to engage in any product communication in primary schools unless requested by, or agreed with, the school administration for educational purposes or to promote active, healthy living.
Individual Company commitments will come into effect on 1 January 2013.
This Responsible Advertising to Children Pledge is designed to reduce advertising of foods to children that are high in saturated fats, trans-fatty acids, sugars or salt, with a view to helping parents and teachers reinforce positive messages on balanced diets and healthy lifestyles.
The advertising Pledge made today is one strand of a wider commitment by the food and beverage industry to promote healthier lifestyles in Singapore. Companies are joining forces with other stakeholders to adopt a multi-faceted approach that spans physical activity; nutrition labeling; nutrition education; as well as food reformulation and innovation.
Examples of this in Singapore include:
• Coca-Cola’s “Step With It™, Singapore!” an active living programme, now in its 10th year. The programme visits schools every year and creates an opportunity for students and teachers to get active in a fun way, while at the same time educating them on energy balance and adequate hydration for a healthy lifestyle. Nearly 400,000 students and teachers have participated in the programme since it was established in 2003 and it has reached 7 in 10 primary schools in Singapore.
• Nestle’s Healthy Kids Programme, implemented in conjunction with the Health Promotion Board (HPB), helps increase nutritional literacy in Singapore schools, teach students healthier cooking and overall promote healthier lifestyles in schools.
• McDonald’s has introduced a number of healthy menu choices such as the Corn Cup, Apple Dippers and low-fat high calcium milk in Happy Meals, as well a salad option. It has also changed its cooking oil to a healthier vegetable oil with no trans fat (less than 0.5g per 100g).” .
Professor Leonard Stevenson, Director of Operations for Food and Human Nutrition at Newcastle University, Singapore, welcomed the proactive industry approach on tackling these complex health challenges.
“The advertising Pledge illustrates that these companies take their responsibility seriously and are prepared to play their role by adopting a self-regulatory approach on these important and challenging issues.”
Also commenting on the Pledge, Ms Gladys Wong, Chief Dietician at Khoo Teck Puat Hospital, Singapore said “It is highly commendable that the leading food industries are now pledging in line with WHO guidelines, to stop food and beverage advertisements targeted at our children. Without these ‘advertising distracters’, it will definitely be easier for the dieticians/nutritionists to educate and encourage our children to make healthier dietary choices thus promoting the maintenance of a healthy weight.”
The World Federation of Advertisers equally welcomed the development. Their Director of Communications, Will Gilroy said that voluntary, industry led self-regulation was yielding positive results in other parts of the world.
“This type of self-regulation, where companies make clear and measurable commitments and follow them up with independent third-party monitoring, is shown to have led to a tangible and sizeable reduction in children’s exposure to the marketing of certain food types,” he said.
Pledge signatories will publish their individual commitments by 1 January 2013 and regular independent monitoring will be published to demonstrate compliance.
Source: Food Industry Asia