Loopholes surrounding online marketing of junk food to youths should be closed, Dublin Senator Catherine Noone has said.
“We know that there is a direct link to junk food marketing directed at children and childhood obesity. It was for this reason we took action by regulating television and radio advertising.
“However, there currently are no regulations for the online market, arguable the most impactful platform for young people. This allows junk food and high sugar beverage companies to target children as they see fit,” Senator Noone said.
“This kind of marketing is much more effective than the traditional television advertisements. Companies can use data to deliver personalised, targeted adverts to young internet users.
“The amount of children accessing the internet continues to rise and while these loopholes remain open, they will be exposed to targeted marketing. Parents have a right and expectation that their children should be allowed to access the internet without being targeted by companies promoting health damaging products.
“We have recognised this problem through traditional forms of media; we must now bring our regulations up to date with our changing society by introducing similar restriction to online activity.
“Ireland’s obesity epidemic does not start or stop at any age group, childhood obesity has been increasing at an alarming rate, posing lifelong problems.
“By closing these loopholes, we can begin to modernize our marketing regulations and as part of a multifaceted approach, turn the tide on obesity,” Senator Noone said.