No advertising for chocolate or ice cream for kids as Spain tackles obesity

MADRID, October 28 (Reuters)Spain will ban advertising of unhealthy foods and drinks like chocolate, cookies and ice cream aimed at children to help fight obesity among young people, the Minister of Consumer Affairs said Thursday.

“Our children are very vulnerable to advertising and it is our duty to protect them,” Minister Alberto Garzon said on Twitter.

He said the regulations would ban the advertising of five categories of products to minors, regardless of their nutritional content.

This list includes chocolate, candies and energy bars as well as cakes, sweet cookies, juices, ice cream and energy drinks.

Other food products will also be subject to regulation if they exceed certain limits for saturated fat, sugar and salt content.

According to the consumer association OCU, nine out of ten food advertisements aimed at children concern unhealthy products.

The move, which has yet to be approved by cabinet, will affect advertising directed at children under 16 on TV and radio, in theaters and on the internet, including social media and mobile apps.

According to the Spanish Agency for Nutrition and Food Security, 40.6% of Spanish children between the ages of six and nine are overweight and 17.3% are considered obese.

The Spanish Federation of Food and Beverage Industries (FIAB) said it was “surprised and outraged” by the decision, as the sector has been working with the ministry for a year to update ethical practices in advertising.

“We believe that food and drink manufacturers are being attacked for free and without justification,” FIAB Director General Mauricio Garcia de Quevedo said in a statement.

(Reporting by Emma Pinedo; Editing by Nathan Allen and Nick Macfie)

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