/ 17 August 2023

THE VALENZUELA City government has taken steps to regulate the marketing and advertising of unhealthy food that target children.

Ordinance No. 2023-101 was filed to prohibit the marketing of processed food high in sugar, salt, and fat; alcoholic beverages, energy drinks, and soda, among others, to children in the city.

“This ordinance is an essential step in building healthy eating habits among Valenzuelanos and starting these habits young,” Mayor Wes Gatchalian said.

“Today, we are building Valenzuela City as a healthy city for children,” he said during a children’s activity on nutrition hosted on Tuesday.

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.

The United Nations Children’s Fund in the Philippines 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 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.

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,” Sophia San Luis, executive director of ImagineLaw, said.

“We laud Valenzuela City’s political will in protecting children from the harms of unhealthy food marketing,” she added.