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WHO calls for junk food ban in schools, playgrounds

Updated: Jan 22, 2011, 00:00 AM IST

Geneva: Junk food should not be sold in schools and playgrounds, the World Health Organisation said on Friday in a series of recommendations aimed at promoting a healthy diet and cutting child obesity.

However, it fell short of calling for a ban on advertising directed at children for foods high in saturated fats, sugars or salt, opting instead to ask member states to "consider the most effective approach to reduce" such marketing.

The non-binding recommendations will be put to a high-level meeting on the prevention and control of non-communicable diseases during September`s General Assembly in New York, WHO officials said.

"Settings where children gather should be free from all forms of marketing of foods high in saturated fats, trans-fatty acids, free sugars or salt," said the UN health agency.

"Such settings include, but are not limited to, nurseries, schools, school grounds and pre-school centres, playgrounds, family and child clinics and paediatric services and during any sporting and cultural activities that are held on these premises," it added.

Some 43 million pre-school children are obese or overweight, according to WHO data.

"Children throughout the world are exposed to marketing of foods high in fat, sugar or salt, which increases the potential of younger generations developing non-communicable diseases during their lives," it said.

Six out of 10 deaths every year are due to cardiovascular diseases, cancers, diabetes and chronic lung diseases, the WHO warned, pointing out that a common factor of the four main diseases is poor diet.

Bureau Report