Growing up, I watched the annual Christmas ads made by a world famous sugar-sweetened beverage (SSB) brand with amazement. Their trick added to the festive magic and convinced me that no Christmas would be complete without their products being part of the family feast.
As an adult, I know better. Their unkind intentions to make a profit at the expense of people’s health leave a bitter taste in my mouth. As a Dietitian I have spent countless hours counseling some of the overweight and obese people in South Africa 31% are men and 68% are women Advise them on how to lose weight and avoid becoming a victim The most important non-communicable killer diseases in the country such as diabetes and heart problems, which are growing rapidly and pose a health threat to our society.
As an advocate for nutrition policy, I have read many reports and research showing how a very powerful and well-resourced food and beverage industry will stop at nothing to market their products, purposefully targeting children.
Research has found it SSB manufacturers spent approx 4 billion rand on advertising Within six years, most of these ads target the viewing time of children and families. Although SSB manufacturers have signed various self-regulatory pledges to do otherwise, nothing has changed. Children are highly susceptible to advertisements for unhealthy foods. As a mom, I’ve experienced the power of ads cleverly designed for kids. No one can blame a child for choosing the food that a celebrity or cartoon advertised on his mother to convince him of healthy food.
For far too long, the industry has been given free rein to convince consumers that these processed products are what we should be eating.
As families and a community, we all witness the constant bombardment of advertisements – from billboards on busy highways and branded local stores and schools, to sound clips on the radio and constant promotions in supermarkets. We don’t even get a break when logging onto social media seeing influencers promoting unhealthy products. It’s hard to escape the cravings we get from these ads. Our food environment is also full of cheap products that are energy-dense and nutrient-poor, making healthy eating extremely difficult. In the past 20 years, due to the intensive commercialization and marketing of food production, South Africans are beginning to consume more and more ultra-processed products that endanger their health, affect their lives and place a burden on our health system.
Realistically, unhealthy food products will always be around. The food and beverage industry is a business that needs these products to make money. However, it has been unleashed too long to convince consumers that these processed products are what we should be eating. This must stop.
The government has a responsibility to protect the health and nutrition of its citizens, as outlined in the Constitution. This can be done by enforcing national regulations that can protect families and individuals from predatory marketing practices. Among them is the proposed one Draft Regulation Concerning Labeling and Advertising of Foodstuffs (R3337)which was published in the Official Journal for public consultation on April 21, 2023. The last day for public comment is July 21, 2023.
In this draft, the Ministry of Health proposes to introduce mandatory warning labels on the front of the packaging to be placed on packaged foods and beverages that are high in sugar, salt, saturated fat, or contain any artificial sweeteners. As an additional proactive measure to especially protect our children from the harmful effects of unhealthy food marketing, the department has included marketing restrictions for all products with these labels. This regulation is a step toward helping consumers understand what is in the food we eat so we are better equipped to fulfill consumer responsibility in making healthy food choices for ourselves and our families.
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Similar mandatory regulations have been implemented in many countries. in ChileThe combination of warning labels on the front of the package, marketing restrictions, and a ban on school sales of these products led to a decrease in Buying unhealthy products has no impact on employmentor wages or profits for the food and beverage industry.
As a parent, I welcome any help in ensuring that our children are protected from the pervasive marketing of unhealthy foods by large food and beverage companies. To comment on this draft system go to Amandla. mobi Join me in supporting this important list. DM
Angelika Grimbek is the Director of Policy and Research at the University of Michigan hey. She is a Registered Dietitian with a Master of Science in Community Pediatrics, which gives her the skills and passion needed to be a nutrition advocate fighting for food justice in South Africa.