Home African Caribbean Children Are The Most Vulnerable In Our Societies; A New Report Released By The Global Health Advocacy Incubator (GHAI)

Children Are The Most Vulnerable In Our Societies; A New Report Released By The Global Health Advocacy Incubator (GHAI)

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A New Report Released By The Global Health Advocacy Incubator (GHAI) Reveals How Corporations Target Those Vulnerable Consumers Through Deceptive Marketing Of Unhealthy Foods, Beverages

Marketing Restrictions Can Prevent Corporate Influence Over Policy Makers And Protect Children From Commercial Exploitation

BRIDGETOWN, 30 November 2022 – A new report released by the Global Health Advocacy Incubator [GHAI] details how food and beverage corporations – such as Coca-Cola, McDonald’s, Nestlé, and PepsiCo – are exerting influence to gain privileged spaces at policy making tables and using deceptive marketing tactics to promote their unhealthy ultra-processed foods to vulnerable populations around the world.

Marketing Exposed: A Global Public Health Threat for Food Policy reveals how harmful marketing practices are shaping food environments and affecting populations with detrimental short and long-term health effects, burdening States with high economic and social costs. This is especially evident when corporations market directly to children and adolescents who lack the developmental maturity to distinguish advertisements from entertaining or educational content.

“Our society is so inundated with unhealthy food marketing that we no longer recognize how manipulative and insidious it has become. The harmful and sophisticated marketing practices are promoting an unhealthier world, destroying cultural diets, creating life-long eating preferences and damaging the health of vulnerable populations around the world,” said Verónica Schoj, MD, Vice President, Food and Nutrition Policy, GHAI. “This report shows why there is such a critical need for governments to promote, preserve and prepare good nutrition for everyone by advocating for strong marketing regulations free from industry influence and to protect children and adolescents from commercial exploitation.”

“The absence of regulation restricting or banning the marketing of foods high in sugars, fats and salts to children under the age of 18 years in the Caribbean is one of the driving factors behind the childhood obesity epidemic facing the region.  The HCC welcomes this new report which highlights the unconscionable targeting by the food and beverage industry of children – amongst the most vulnerable. This important data will be critical as the HCC and regional public health advocates seek to raise the priority of marketing regulation especially in school settings across the Caribbean,”   stated Sir Trevor Hassell, President of the Healthy Caribbean Coalition (HCC).

The report contains a qualitative analysis of more than 300 examples obtained through public sources from more than 52 countries, highlighting the industry trends observed. It outlines the potential damage done when corporations use marketing to deceive and influence globally:

  1. Misleading marketing generates a harmful domino effect by creating unhealthy food environments, burdening countries with sicker populations, and other negative results.
  2. It extends beyond advertising, promotion and sponsorship to include corporate washing that allows the industry to establish itself at the policymaking table while influencing vulnerable populations.
  3. It’s aggressive, insidious and everywhere: it enables the industry to influence what consumers eat, displacing traditional foods from different cultures.
  4. It puts children and adolescents at risk of becoming victims of commercial exploitation due to the corporate saturation of unhealthy products in the market.

Marketing Exposed: A Global Public Health Threat for Food Policy is the third industry report produced by GHAI. The 2020 report, Facing Two Pandemics: How Big Food Undermined Public Health in the Era of Covid-19, received global recognition for increasing awareness on Big Food companies seizing the coronavirus pandemic to promote their ultra-processed foods. In 2021, Behind The Labels: Big Food’s War on Healthy Food Policies demonstrated how the food and beverage industry has aggressively fought to weaken and undermine front-of-package labelling policies (FOPL) globally.

The 2022 report exposes concrete worldwide examples of how food and beverage corporations are leveraging marketing strategies at the expense of public health. The report aims to urgently eradicate the dangerous consequences from misleading food marketing.

The report highlights specific examples from the Caribbean including Burger King’s premium toy offer during Jamaica’s Child’s Month and the promotion of Nestlé’s Healthier Kids Program that featured children wearing branded Nestlé shirts. These examples align with what is captured in the Healthy Caribbean Coalition’s conflict of interest, industry interference and marketing to children tracking database.

Danielle Walwyn, the Advocacy Officer at the HCC and coordinator of its youth arm, Healthy Caribbean Youth, has expressed concern with the pervasiveness of the predatory marketing of unhealthy food and beverage products to children. She said, “Children are impressionable – that is why the pervasive marketing of foods high in salt, sugar and fat is so dangerous. Children recognize key brand features and with constant exposure they are likely to become loyal customers – for life. Children marketing these products to other children, product giveaways, branded school supplies, school sponsorships, branded recycle initiatives targeting school children are just some of the strategies that we have observed. A recent UREPORT poll has highlighted Caribbean children and young people’s support for policies or laws that would restrict advertising of unhealthy food and beverage products to children. We think policymakers need to listen.”

“While we wait for comprehensive and sensible marketing regulations, health and cardiovascular diseases and related economic and social costs will continue to skyrocket. The time is now for real accountability that should not involve corporate interference during policy making,” said Dr. Schoj

About the Global Health Advocacy Incubator

The Global Health Advocacy Incubator (GHAI) supports civil society organizations advocating for public health policies that reduce death and disease. We take a proven, systematic approach, customized by local partners, to deliver health policy wins in countries around the world, in diverse political systems. Through the Food Policy Program, GHAI supports advocacy campaigns aimed to create healthier food environments.

About the Healthy Caribbean Coalition 

The Healthy Caribbean Coalition (HCC) is the only regional NCD alliance of health and non-health civil society organisations.  The HCC, with over 100 members, works closely with regional and international leaders in NCD prevention and control to leverage the power of civil society by strengthening and supporting its membership in the implementation of programmes aimed at reducing the morbidity and mortality associated with NCDs.

For more information, please visit advocacyincubator.org.  and www.healthycaribbean.org



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