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Spain to ban junk food ads for children to fight obesity

41% of Spanish children aged 6 to 9 are obese or overweight, according to Consumer Affairs Ministry

Alyssa McMurtry  | 28.10.2021 - Update : 29.10.2021
Spain to ban junk food ads for children to fight obesity


Spain will ban junk food advertisements targeting children in 2022 in a bid to help fight obesity among young people, the Consumer Affairs Ministry announced Thursday.

Advertisements for chocolates, energy bars, cookies, pastries, energy drinks, juice, ice cream, and other unhealthy products will be banned from media like television and internet sites with content for under 16-year-olds.

“In Spain, there is a serious public health problem linked to foods with high levels of salt, fat and sugar,” the ministry said in a video announcement.

According to the ministry, 41% of Spanish children aged six to nine are now obese or overweight, a figure similar to countries with some of the world’s highest obesity rates like the US and Mexico.

“Advertising is one of the causes of this figure… We will defend the interests of our youth so they are no longer the targets of marketing campaigns for foods that harm their health,” continued the announcement.

Once the regulation takes effect, companies will no longer be able to advertise junk food anywhere on Spanish TV during peak viewing hours for children. In Spain, that is from 8-9 a.m. and 5-8 p.m. on weekdays and between 9 a.m.-12 p.m. on the weekends.

Junk food advertisements will also be completely banned from children’s TV networks and during any programs that are popular with youngsters.

Spain’s main food and drink federation FIAB said it was blindsided by the announcement and has already sent in a formal complaint to the Spanish government.

“Both in the content of the proposal and the language that the Ministry uses, we believe this is a wanton and unjustified attack on companies that make food and drinks,” said Mauricio Garcia de Quevedo, FIAB’s director general.

Garcia added that the government cannot “criminalize” the sector and that the increasing rate of childhood obesity is also due to more sedentary lifestyles.

This summer, the UK announced a similar ban, while Portugal and Norway have already enacted this type of regulation.

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