Beyond self-regulation: dealing with Europe’s consumption problem

vytenis-andriukaitis-71-general-assembly-new-york

Vytenis Andriukaitis, Member of the EC in charge of Health and Food Safety, travelled to New-York to take part in the 71st UN General Assembly, high-level meeting on antimicrobial resistance. Muna al-Hussein, Princess of Jordan, Vytenis Andriukaitis and Muhammad Yunus, Founder and Executive Director of the Grameen Bank, in Bangladesh, and Nobel Peace Prize Laureate (from left to right). © European Union , 2016 / Source: EC – Audiovisual Service / Photo: Johanna Leguerre.

This article was exclusively written for the Sting by Mr Priit Tohver. The writer is the Regional Director for Europe in the IFMSA for the term 2016/17. He is a fifth year medical student from Tartu University, Estonia.  Mr Tohver is affiliated to the International Federation of Medical Students Associations (IFMSA).

The European Parliament is currently discussing a revision to the Audiovisual Media Services Directive (AVMSD). This Directive aims to coordinate national legislation on all audiovisual media, providing a common set of minimum rules, like for instance what and to whom can be advertised. Recently, over 40 NGOs, including the IFMSA came forth to demand a better AVMSD for the children and youth of Europe.

According to the WHO, around half of all Europeans are overweight, while 20% are obese. Dietary risks are the largest contributor to the disease burden in the European Union, surpassing the effects of tobacco and alcohol consumption, while 7% of national health budgets across the EU are spent on diseases linked to obesity. Speaking of alcohol, almost 14% of deaths among men aged 15-64 can be attributed to alcohol in the European Union. These are not random facts, all of them can be linked to the formative years of childhood and youth.

According to the estimates of the WHO’s Childhood Obesity Surveillance Initiative, 1 in 3 European children aged 6-9 were overweight or obese in 2010, up from 1 in 4 only 2 years earlier. According to the ESPAD study, which samples school children up to the age of 16 in Europe, almost half of all children have tried alcohol at the age of 13 or younger. In addition, an average of 13% of respondents reported being intoxicated in the past 30 days.

These statistics spell trouble for our future, as childhood habits and behaviours tend to have long-term consequences. For one, there is a formidable body of evidence that illustrates the connection between age of onset of drinking and alcohol disorders. Furthermore, there is a strong link between excess weight and damaging health outcomes later in life. Overweight or obese children are more likely to be obese in adulthood, and suffer from associated health problems.

This is where the AVMSD comes in. Whereas the factors that come into play in defining our unhealthy habits are myriad, promotion is one of them. After reviewing the available data, the European Alcohol and Health Forum concluded that advertising alcohol to children and youth has an effect on both the age of onset of drinking and the quantities consumed. Furthermore, the advertising of foods high in sugar, fat or sodium is considered a catalyst for childhood obesity.

Yet whilst the WHO recommends measures such as banning alcohol advertising entirely, the system currently in place in several European countries is that of self- and co-regulation, wherein industry has a bigger say in defining the standards it must adhere to. The EU pledge is yet another example of this approach. As aptly pointed out by the European Public Health Alliance, however, such industry led regulation schemes more often than not lack clear objectives, and a proper system of monitoring, evaluation and sanction. This is probably the reason why such schemes fail to deliver health and policy objectives, whilst clearly being the form of regulation industry itself prefers.

In several countries around Europe, civil society has been pushing for stricter regulations to curb the effects of health harmful advertising. The European Parliament could go a long way in supporting those efforts, by delivering an AVMSD revision that goes beyond the meagre scope of self-regulation.

About the writer

Priit Tohver is the Regional Director for Europe in the IFMSA for the term 2016/17. He is a fifth year medical student from Tartu University, Estonia. Priit is avid about public health and has a particular interest in health systems, minority health and the health implications of trade. The International Federation of Medical Students’ Associations unites medical students worldwide to lead initiatives that impact positively the communities they serve. IFMSA represents the opinions and ideas of future medical professionals in the field of global health, and connects and engages with 1.3 million medical students from 122 countries across the globe.

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

the sting Milestone

Featured Stings

Can we feed everyone without unleashing disaster? Read on

These campaigners want to give a quarter of the UK back to nature

How to build a more resilient and inclusive global system

Stopping antimicrobial resistance would cost just USD 2 per person a year

Poliomielitis: climatic changes and impossibility in border control

‘Climate change is the battle of my life’, UN chief tells students living on the frontline in Fiji

New UN agriculture agency report underscores value of fishing in fight against global hunger

Is the energy industry meeting its sustainability goals?

Yemen war: UN chief urges good faith as ‘milestone’ talks get underway in Sweden

Why and how did ISIS and Muslim fundamentalism gain momentum this year?

World Migratory Bird Day highlights deadly risks of plastic pollution

10 cities are predicted to gain megacity status by 2030

Miguel Arias Cañete European Commission

EU should invest more in climate and not sit back on its laurels and watch

European Youth Forum welcomes steps towards raising awareness of youth rights by EU ministers

Professional practices of primary health care for Brazilian health and gender inequality

A Sting Exclusive: “Digital and mobile technologies are helping to achieve an economic success in Spain”, the Spanish Secretary of State for Telecommunications and Information Society Víctor Calvo-Sotelo reveals to the Sting at Mobile World Congress 2015

Charles Michel advocates a strong Europe that acts where it can add real value

Draghi to hold on zero interest rates until he leaves ECB

Public health through universal health coverage can help to attain many SDGs

Europe united in not supporting a US attack on Syria

‘The time for action is now’ senior UN peacekeeping official says, urging support for regional force combating Sahel terrorism

Venezuela: ‘A worrying destabilizing factor in the region’, Bachelet tells Human Rights Council

Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning: “Am I a real Boy?”

Hunger, displacement and disease: 4.3 million people remain in dire need of aid in Chad

How will the EU face the migration crisis when the Turkish threats come true?

Nearly four million North Koreans in urgent need, as food production slumps by almost 10 per cent

Antisemitism, intolerance, can be unlearned, Guterres tells New York commemoration

Assembly of European Regions @ European Business Summit 2014: The European regions on the path to recovery

5 things to know about the exploding world of pro gaming

3 charts to help you understand the American shale boom

4 radical shifts required to achieve universal health coverage worldwide

Tuesday’s Daily Brief: violence surges in Nigeria, anti-Semitism on the march, taxing pollution to tackle climate crisis, and more

European tourism remains a strong growth factor

EU’s Finance Ministers draft plan to raise tax bills of online giants like Google and Amazon

South Sudan: ‘Outraged’ UN experts say ongoing widespread human rights violations may amount to war crimes

Erasmus+ will finance existing UK-EU mobility in the event of no-deal Brexit

Is South Korea set to lose from its FTA with the EU?

A Europe that Protects: Commission calls for continued action to eradicate trafficking in human beings

Why are wildfires getting worse?

International trade statistics: trends in third quarter 2019

How Hawaii plans to be the first US state to run entirely on clean energy

Can free trade deliver cheaper renewable energy? Ask Mexico

Solutions for cultural understanding: medical students’ perspective

A shortened EU Summit admits failures, makes risky promises

Eurozone: Subdued inflation can lead to more recession

The Free World Experience Report – LGBTQI+ health on the spot

Can fighting climate change bring the Arab world closer together?

Markets are more sensitive to Greece’s woes than Merkel

Afghanistan: UN mission welcomes new polling dates following election delays

Sustainable development demands a broader vision, says new OECD Development Centre report

Tax reforms accelerating with push to lower corporate tax rates

Burning Amazon rainforests: Darting towards the doom of Human Race

Trump’s Russian affair spills over and upsets Europe

Online government services could change your life. But only if you have access to the internet

Why Eurozone can afford spending for growth

Online shopping across the EU to be easier from 3 December

The world’s e-waste is a huge problem. It’s also a golden opportunity

UN space-based tool opens new horizons to track land-use on Earth’s surface

Internet Forum: Prioritize technologies most needed for sustainable development

Metrics of the Sustainable Developments Goals: Can we trust our data?

Can India reduce deaths on one hazardous road to zero? This group is trying

‘Virtual Biopsy’ device detects skin tumours in 15 minutes

Here’s how to prepare South-East Asia’s young people for the future

More Stings?

Speak your Mind Here

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s