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

Featured Stings

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

The sustainable fashion revolution is well underway. These 5 trends prove it

Changing for the change: Medicine in Industry 4.0

5 ways to integrate Syrian refugees into the workforce

Eurobarometer: Not a single answer about what the Banking Union will cost to citizens

A European young student speaks about the Youth Policies of the European Commission

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

Spending another 3 billion euros on Turkey feels better than admitting EU’s failure

Sweden has a plan to end all traffic accident deaths

Grexit no longer a threat but how to manage a “tutti frutti” government if not with fear?

A Sting Exclusive: “Leading by example! EU must push for UN deal to avoid dangerous climate change”, European Parliament Vice-President Ulrike Lunacek cries out from Brussels

7 amazing ways artificial intelligence is used in healthcare

Cross-roads

Berlin repels proposal for cheaper euro

Islamophobia is driving more US Muslims to become politically engaged, suggests report

New rules on drivers’ working conditions and fair competition in road transport

G20 LIVE: G20 Antalya Summit in Numbers, 15-16 November 2015

The power of trust and values in the Fourth Industrial Revolution

WHO study reveals ‘game-changer’ drug with potential to save thousands of women’s lives in childbirth

Higher education becoming again a privilege of the wealthy?

Somalia: UN urges steps to ensure future elections not ‘marred’ by rights abuses seen in recent polls

France pushes UK to stay and Germany to pay

Any doubt?

Main results of G20 summit in Buenos Aires, Argentina

Falling inflation urges ECB to introduce growth measures today

Diana in Vietnam

The European Sting live from the World Economic Forum 2015 in Davos

EU Budget 2019: focus on the young, on migration and innovation

India’s agro-food sector has made strong progress, but a new policy approach is needed to meet future challenges, says new report by OECD and ICRIER

EU to relocate 40,000 migrants across the bloc: first step of a long due substantial reform?

COP21 Breaking News_05 December: Carbon Price Needed for Climate Change Success

Draghi repels Trump’s threats, rejects Schauble’s dictums

How digital is your country? Europe needs Digital Single Market to boost its digital performance

The West and Russia took what they wanted from Ukraine

London wants to treat violent crime like a disease

EU summit: No energy against tax evasion and fraud

The vehicles of our future

China’s New Normal and Its Relevance to the EU

MWC 2016 LIVE: The top 5 themes of this year’s Mobile World Congress

Sponsored content: when QUALITY meets OPEX in manufacturing

The widely advertised hazards of the EU not that ominous; the sting is financial woes

LEAGUE OF YOUNG VOTERS LAUNCHES TOOL FOR YOUNG PEOPLE TO COMPARE POLITICAL PARTIES AHEAD OF EU ELECTIONS

ECB: Growth measures even before the German elections

Catalonia’s vote for independence and the power of symbols

A European Discovers China: 3 First Impressions

Exchanges of medical students and the true understanding of global health issues

European Energy Union: Integration of markets and need for in-house energy production

Why do humanitarian crises disproportionately affect women?

The new EU “fiscal compact” an intimidation for all people

It’s EU vs. Google for real: the time is now, the case is open

We need to talk about integration after migration. Here are four ways we can improve it

EU and Australia launch talks for a broad trade agreement

The Future of Retail: Changing shopping patterns will mean retailers need to invest in costly and complex solutions

America writes-off Iran, blocks Europe’s Tehran talks

COP21 Breaking News_10 December: UN Climate Chief Calls for Final Push to Meet Adaptation Fund Goal Very Close to Target

US and Mexico child deportations drive extreme violence and trauma: UNICEF

Why EU’s working and unemployed millions remain uncertain or even desperate about their future

Draghi’s ‘quasi’ announcement of a new era of more and cheaper money

Varna (Bulgaria) awarded European Youth Capital 2017

Me and China

Central American migrants must be protected, urge UN experts

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