cares commercial-communication harmful-commercial-marketing-is-a-severe-threat-against-children-s-health

Harmful commercial marketing is a severe threat against children`s health

“A Future for the World’s Children?” a report by the WHO-UNICEF-Lancet Commission, consisting of 40 child and adolescent health experts from around the world was launched. The Lancet report finds that children around the world are exposed to severe threats by advertising and marketing that exploits their vulnerability by taking advantage of the lack of regulation from governments.

 Children are enormously exposed to harmful commercial marketing of products primarily for use by adults, such as alcohol.  The risk their health and wellbeing is often overlooked, yet studies find that exposure to alcohol advertising is associated with greater consumption.

With social media, the channels to reach children and adolescents has grown and diversified, often overlapping between entertainment and advertising. Self-regulation has had little effect, and have not protected children from profit-making at the expense of their wellbeing. 

The WHO-UNICEF-Lancet Commission highlights a few examples of these practises:

  • A study of 11–14-year olds from LA, showed that African American and Hispanic youth were exposed to nearly twice as many alcohol advertisements as white youth, and girls of all ethnicities were exposed to 30% more alcohol advertisements than boys. 

  • In Australia, despite self-regulation, alcohol advertising was purchased for all football, cricket, and rugby league TV programmes for 2012 with an audience of almost 39 million children and young adults. Children and young adults were exposed to alcohol adverts 51 million times, and 47% of this exposure occurred during the daytime.  

According to the authors, Kickbusch and colleagues, we have underestimated globalised corporate power and its transnational influence on political decision making. Self-regulatory schemes have left children highly exposed.  

The commission suggests that a legally binding instrument to effectively regulate commercial advertisements to children needs to be in place.

It would require national governments to prohibit or regulate the types of products that are marketed to children and regulate specific methods of marketing to children.   Given the cross-border effects of commercial marketing, including through the Internet and social media, an Optional Protocol to the Children's Rights and Business Principles adopted by the UN General Assembly, could address the transnational elements of the problem and simultaneously drive national action for legal protection.  

To read the full report:

This site use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website.