The City Government of Valenzuela announced yesterday that it is taking steps to regulate unhealthy food marketing and advertising that target children. 

“Today, we are building Valenzuela City as a healthy city for children,” declared Mayor Wes Gatchalian during a children’s activity on nutrition hosted by the city on Tuesday. Proposed Ordinance No. 2023-101 has been filed to prohibit the marketing of processed food items high in sugar, salt, and fat, alcoholic beverages, energy drinks, and soda, among others, to children in the city, Gatchalian reported to the media. “This ordinance is an essential step in building healthy eating habits among Valenzuelanos and starting these habits young,” he said. 

Nationwide, 1 in every 7 Filipino school children (ages 5-19 years old) is obese or overweight, according to the 2021 data of the Food and Nutrition Research Institute (FNRI). The United Nations Children’s Fund in the Philippines (UNICEF Philippines) also links the promotion, sale, and consumption of unhealthy food and beverages to increasing obesity rates among Filipinos. Overweight and obese individuals are more at risk of developing non-communicable diseases such as heart disease and diabetes. 

The proposed measure,  once approved by the city council, will ban ‘child-directed marketing’ or any form of marketing that uses images, sounds, and characters or celebrities that appeal to children or promotional giveaways that include toys, books, or games and activities that are popular with children.

Sponsorships of the food and beverage industry in activities and settings that involve children such as schools, parks, playgrounds, and service centers frequented by families will also be banned. Once enacted, food establishments and manufacturers that violate provisions of the ordinance will face fines, and in severe cases, cancellation of applicable licenses. 

Public interest law group ImagineLaw welcomed Valenzuela City’s initiative. “The commitment to improve children’s health and well-being starts with a healthy local food environment,” said Atty. Sophia San Luis, executive director of ImagineLaw. “We laud Valenzuela City’s political will in protecting children from the harms of unhealthy food marketing,” she added. # 

Link to children’s winning entries during the Healthy Lifestyle, Gawing Viral event.

Link to the Valenzuela City proposed ordinance. 

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