New Draft Law in Germany: Children Require a Healthy Nutritional Environment
The draft law of the German Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture regarding the advertising ban for sugary, salty, and fatty foods has been causing controversy in the political landscape of the Federal Republic of Germany since February 2023.
The proposed law is supported, of course party-independent by the Rock Your Health - RYHEALTH Consortium Partners Outdoor Against Cancer (OAC) and Campus di Monaco (CdM), both based in Munich, Germany. This advertising ban aims to protect the health of children and adolescents and makes a significant contribution to the fight against malnutrition, and related non-infectious diseases including cancer, cardiovascular diseases, and obesity in children and later in adulthood.
However, it seems that the bill is considered too "radical" by some politicians and their supporters. As a result, the German Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture has made the following adjustments:
"The new law by Federal Minister of Agriculture Cem Özdemir protects children from advertisements that promote unhealthy food with high levels of sugar, fat, or salt as healthy delicacies. Often, these advertisements are specifically targeted at children and adolescents, with significant consequences. Those who frequently consume unhealthy foods as children are more likely to develop cancer or diabetes in adulthood. That is why this law is crucial for protecting our children.", Katrin Habenschaden, 2nd Mayor of Munich, Germany
Original draft for television advertising:
In the original draft, TV advertisements for sweet, salty, and fatty foods, such as ready-to-eat pizza and other fast food, candy bars, potato chips, or soft drinks, would only be allowed from 11 p.m. to 6 a.m.
Revised draft for television advertising:
Cem Özdemir's ministry now proposes a regulation staggered by days of the week:
No advertising for these products:
- Monday to Friday from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m.
- Saturdays between 8 a.m. and 11 a.m. and 5 p.m. to 10 p.m.
- Sundays between 8 a.m. and 10 p.m.
The German Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture based this adjustment on the times when children watch television the most. The Free Democratic Party (FDP) argued for a ban on advertising exclusively during designated children's programs. In contrast, the German Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture stated that children consume not only children's programs but also series and sports programs like soccer games.
Original draft for billboard advertising:
Prohibition of outdoor advertising (billboard advertising) within a 100-meter radius around recreational facilities predominantly visited by children, as well as around schools, daycare centers, or playgrounds.
Revised billboard advertising draft:
The ban on advertising for ready-to-eat pizza and other fast food, ice cream, and chocolate would continue to:
- Apply within a 100-meter radius around schools and daycare centers.
- Allow such billboards in the vicinity of playgrounds and recreational facilities.
"Bearing in mind that, as indicated in the Declaration of the Rights of the Child, "the child, by reason of his physical and mental immaturity, needs special safeguards and care, including appropriate legal protection, before as well as after birth".
Source: Preamble, Convention on the Rights of the Child, United Nations, https://www.ohchr.org/en/instruments-mechanisms/instruments/convention-rights-child
It remains uncertain what the future holds in Germany regarding preventive health education and disease prevention for children. Safeguarding children's health is an inherent right, and implementing a prohibition on advertising unhealthy foods in close proximity to children is pivotal in providing them with optimal opportunities for a healthy and fulfilling adulthood.