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

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Featured Stings

EU agricultural production no more a self-sufficiency anchor

Time to be welcome: Youth work and integration of young refugees

EU rewards organisations that make eco-innovation pay

Education expenditure in the EU not hurt much by crisis

COP21 Business update: Companies urge now for carbon pricing as coal is still a big issue

In China things are moving in the right direction

Ukraine-EU deal sees the light but there’s no defeat for Russia

Unemployment and stagnation can tear Eurozone apart if austere policies persist

“Will TTIP solve the massive EU-US unemployment? Absolutely not!” A revealing Sting Exclusive with Tim Bennett from the Transatlantic Business Council

Italy’s dilemma after Merkel-Hollande agreed loose banking union

New skills needed for medical students in Industry 4.0

Is Erdogan losing game and match within and without Turkey?

The European Commission to stop Buffering

The EU Consumer Policy on the Digital Market: A Behavioral Economics View

EU Commission expects consumer spending to unlock growth

The Commission tries to stop the ‘party’ with the structural funds

Why are the financial markets shivering again?

The EU Parliament blasts the Council about the tax dealings of the wealthy

Mobile 360 Africa 11-13 July 2017

A money laundering case on Vatican Bank’s road to renovation

Entrepreneurship in a newly shaped Europe: what is the survival kit for a young Catalan and British entrepreneur in 2018?

India’s Largest Entrepreneurship Event is Back! (23-24th August 2016)

A Sting Exclusive: Paris Climate Change Summit, a defining moment for humanity, by Ulf Björnholm Head of UNEP Brussels

Industrial products: Lifting the last impediments in the EU single market

Finance for SMEs: Alternative supply mechanisms do exist

EU Parliament semi worried over democratic deficit

Pro-EU forces won a 70% triumph in the European elections

Italy’s Letta: A European Banking Union soon or Eurozone collapses

ECB asks for more subsidies to banks

Europe’s top court hears Intel and sends € 1.06 bn antitrust fine to review

Theresa May’s global Britain against Philip Hammond’s Brexit fog

What lessons to draw from the destruction of Syria

A sterilised EMU may lead to a break up of Eurozone

Lack of involvement, or lack of opportunities?

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

European Commission determined to conclude EU-Mercosur trade deal this year despite French concerns

Why Eurozone’s problems may end in a few months

The EU Parliament unanimously rejects Commission’s ideas about ‘seeds’

“As German Chancellor I want to be able to cope with the merger of the real and digital economy”, Angela Merkel from Switzerland; the Sting reports live from World Economic Forum 2015 in Davos

“Beating pollution for our planet”, a Sting Exclusive by Mr Erik Solheim, the Executive Director of the United Nations Environment

COP21 Breaking News_09 December: The Draft Agreement Updated

The inhumane face of crisis mirrored in numbers

How the Irish people were robbed by banks, the Commission and their own government

The DNA of the future retail CEO

Travel the world, find yourself

Bank resolutions to remain a politically influenced affair

Mental health in medical students: the deciphered quandary

The Peoples are missing from EU’s monetary union

Can Kiev make face to mounting economic problems and social unrest?

The European Commission cuts roaming charges. But “it’s not enough”…

Chinese economy to raise speed and help the world grow

The Irish Presidency bullies the Parliament over EU budget

G20 LIVE: “International communities and leaders have great expectations for 2016 G20 summit in Hangzhou China”, Mr Wang Xiaolong, the Chinese Foreign Ministry’s special envoy stresses live from G20 in Antalya Turkey

EU Parliament says ‘no’ to austerity budget

ZTE @ MWC14: ZTE excels in all areas at this year’s Mobile World Congress

Why Commissioner Rehn wants us all to work more for less

Counting unemployment in the EU: The real rate comes to anything between 16.1% and 20.6%

EU and Japan agree on free-trade deal and fill the post-TPP void

Can the EU afford to block China’s business openings to Europe by denying her the ‘market economy status’?

A shortened EU Summit admits failures, makes risky promises

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 )

Twitter picture

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

Facebook photo

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

Google+ photo

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

Connecting to %s