NAPi Calls for Amending Regulations on Ads for Unhealthy Foods

The Nutrition Advocacy in Public Interest (NAPi) has called for changes to the regulations governing the advertising of foods high in sugar, salt, or fats, as well as ultra-processed foods, according to their report, 50 Shades of Food Advertising. The report highlights that such advertisements contribute to the increased consumption of unhealthy foods, which are linked to obesity and diabetes.

The report underscores India’s challenge of persistent undernutrition in children under five and a rising trend of obesity and diabetes among adults. Arun Gupta, NAPi’s convenor, suggested that while regulatory amendments may take time, the government could immediately require advertisements to prominently display the amount of concerning nutrients per 100 grammes or millilitres. She also advocated for the introduction of a public health bill in Parliament to combat obesity.

Referencing a 2023 ICMR-INDIAB study, the report noted that India has 100 million diabetes cases, with one in four individuals being diabetic, pre-diabetic, or obese.

The report identifies aggressive marketing of unhealthy foods as a major factor in the rising rates of obesity and diabetes. It criticises food and drink advertisements for using emotional appeals, expert endorsements, celebrity endorsements, and other tactics to mislead consumers while concealing important nutritional information. It points out that such practices violate the Consumer Protection Act 2019 and the Advertisement Code of the Cable TV Regulation Act 1994, which prohibit advertisements that endanger children’s safety or promote unhealthy practices.


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