Ministry of Health and DGS call for action against childhood obesity

"The digital world seems to be changing food consumption"

The Ministry of Health and the General Directorate of Health (DGS) launched this Tuesday a call to action to protect children from obesity-promoting digital environments, while taking advantage of the digital presence to improve access to food healthy.

The “Lisbon Call to Action – To protect children from obesogenic food environments” is launched under the Portuguese Presidency of the European Union and comes after a conference organized in conjunction with the World Health Organization (WHO) for the European region that debated the theme.

“More and more food is being bought over the Internet (online supermarkets and 'food delivery apps'), information about healthy eating is being sought on digital platforms and the (increasing) period of time “browsing” exposes the population continuously to advertising of foods, which in general are unhealthy”, reads a statement from the DGS.

“The digital world seems to be changing food consumption, purchasing behavior and food preparation. The powerful marketing strategies that have emerged in the digital context, the frequent use of 'food delivery apps' and the increased risk of misinformation when it comes to healthy eating are some of the main threats facing the fight against obesity", it adds .

The authorities also highlight the opportunities that digital environments provide, with tools that allow monitoring the supply and consumption of food and that “may be essential for the planning and monitoring of public policies for the prevention of obesity”.

The call to action is addressed to governments, families, civil society organizations, producers of digital content and marketing specialists, but also to companies in the food sector.

“Governments are urged to take action to reduce children's exposure to the digital marketing of unhealthy foods; parents and families are asked to recognize the risks associated with excessive exposure of children to screens, seeking to encourage their reduction; schools and the entire school community are asked to collaborate in order to contribute to increasing the digital and media literacy of children and young people, and economic operators in the agri-food sector and marketeers are asked to commit to not advertising poor quality food nutrition for children. These are just a few examples”, says DGS.