Originally published March 10 2010
South Korea does what the US refuses to do: Restrict junk food advertising to children
by E. Huff, staff writer
(NaturalNews) The health ministry of South Korea has announced that advertisements for foods that are high in fat, sugar, and salt, will be limited during the prime time television hours of 5 and 7 p.m. and during any children's programming. In support of national efforts to curb childhood obesity, the limitations will include foods such as hamburgers, instant noodles, and pizza as well as desserts like chocolate, candy, and ice cream.
Many South Korean child advocacy groups have been calling for limitations on junk food advertising for years, citing the statistic that 20 percent of children in the country are overweight. Last year, the health ministry banned junk food sales at schools and their surrounding neighborhoods.
A stricter version of the advertising ban was proposed back in 2008 that would have stopped junk food advertising for four hours instead of two but television broadcasters and their advertisers strongly opposed the strict regulations. The South Korean government eventually arrived at a compromised version which is said to take effect within the next several weeks.
Following its implementation, government officials plan to evaluate the success of the program to see if an observable reduction in obesity takes place. It will use the results in formulating future obesity-related regulations.
Officials expressed that the goal of the ban is to encourage food manufacturers to improve the nutritional quality of their products. Rather than simply enact burdensome restrictions, the health ministry is hoping that when all is said and done, consumers will have healthier options available to them as well as be more informed about what they are purchasing.
According to a World Health Organization (WHO) report, the two most effective ways to limit children's consumption of unhealthy foods is to restrict their advertising and remove them from schools.
Many advocacy groups in the United States have expressed similar sentiments, urging the U.S. government to enact similar legislation to restrict junk food advertising. Since obesity rates are spiraling out of control domestically, they believe that restrictions will help to improve childhood health.
Unfortunately, many of the primary causes of the nation's abundance of cheap junk food and the inevitable obesity epidemic it causes have to do with things like crop subsidies, regulatory agency mismanagement, genetic modification, and lack of transparency in food labeling. A limit on advertising may help to curb the amount of junk food children eat but it will not remove it from grocery store shelves.
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