Marketing of ultra-processed and processed food and non-alcoholic drink products

Exposure to advertising of ultra-processed and processed food and drink products is associated with people’s preferences, beliefs and eating behaviors, and is therefore, a key driver of obesity and diet-related noncommunicable diseases.

In May 2010, the World Health Assembly unanimously adopted the World Health Organization (WHO) Set of Recommendations on the Marketing of Foods and Non-alcoholic Beverages to Children. These recommendations urge Member States to reduce the impact of the marketing of ultra-processed and processed food and non-alcoholic drink products to children and were reinforced by the WHO Commission on Ending Childhood Obesity, the Global Action Plan for the Prevention and Control of Noncommunicable Diseases (NCDs) 2013–2020, and the Pan American Health Organization Plan of Action for the Prevention of Obesity in Children and Adolescents 2014-2019.

The marketing to children of ultra-processed and processed food and drink products can have a long-term impact on health affecting the fullfillment of human rights. Measures to protect, respect and fullfill human rights should include the adoption of effective regulation and monitoring of advertising and marketing industries ensuring that the best interests of the child are central to the development of legislation and policies that shape business activities and operations.  Effective regulations should also protect adults from the marketing of ultra-processed and processed food and drink products, so that Member States can fulfil their obligations to protect the right to adequate food, the right to health, as well as cultural rights.

Restricting the marketing of ultra-processed and processed food and drink products is fundamental to encouraging and sustaining the implementation of regulations and restrictions to promote healthy diets and reduce the risks of obesity and NCDs by Member States.

Key facts
  • The marketing of ultra-processed and processed food and drink products encourages the excessive consumption of energy, sugars, fats, saturated fats, trans fats and sodium, which promotes unhealthy weight gain, particularly during early stages of life, childhood overweight, obesity and diet-related NCDs.
  • The regulation of marketing is one of the most cost-effective measures for reducing the demand for ultra-processed and processed products excessive in sugars, fats, saturated fats, trans fats and sodium.
  • Regulating and restricting marketing of ultra-processed and processed food and drink products is feasible and is happening in many countries, including from the Region of the Americas.
What PAHO does

PAHO provides leadership and technical cooperation to Member States on healthy nutrition, including the regulation and restriction on marketing of ultra-processed and processed food and drink products. PAHO works closely with United Nations agencies, nongovernmental organizations, academic institutions, and civil society organizations promoting and supporting policies, generating, and disseminating information, organizing workshops, and monitoring trends on the topic. PAHO continuously provides technical guidance, and facilitates collaboration and cooperation among countries allowing for healthier environments to be created and diets to be improved in the Region of the Americas.  

Mandates and Strategies