Uganda Communications Commission and Ministry Of Health have agreed to come up with guidelines on marketing restrictions of unhealthy foods and non-alcoholic beverages and a list showing the unhealthy foods and beverages whose marketing should be restricted. These are to act as a guide to UCC in making informed decisions on regulations and restrictions.
Overweight and the associated diet-related NCDs are contributing to 4 million deaths globally, which is mainly due to unhealthy lifestyle choices such as feeding on an unhealthy diet high in fats, sugar & salt, which play a big role. According to World Health Organization (NCD Uganda country Profile 2018), NCDs in Uganda is estimated to account for 33% of all deaths.
The food industry which is the most producer of unhealthy diets highly targets Children who they influence primarily through three markets: the primary market, as consumers in their own right; the parental market, as children play a major role in influencing what their parents buy, referred to as ‘pester power’ or kid-fluence; and the future market, as children are likely to stick to the consumption habits they acquired as children when they grow older.
Although this is the case, there is minimal awareness among the government, non-state actors, and the general public of how diet is causing premature deaths. The food and drink industry enjoys commercial liberty with very minimal restrictions, and as a result, food companies’ advertisements promote foods high in fats, sugar, and salt, consumption of which should be limited as part of a healthy diet. (WHO 2006).
It is against this background that CEFROHT together with AWG held a policy dialogue with the Commission charged with the legal duty to regulate marketing in Uganda, to discuss issues of promotion of healthy diets through restriction of marketing of unhealthy food, especially to children.
AWG together with CEFROHT held a policy dialogue on the restriction of the marketing of foods and non-alcoholic beverages to children on 22nd March 2021 with the MOH and Uganda Communications Commission. The purpose of the policy dialogue was to provide policymakers with facts and proposals for reforms on the restriction of marketing of foods and non-alcoholic beverages to children.
From the discussion, it was agreed that AWG together with the MOH writes a letter detailing guidelines on marketing regulations and restrictions on food and non-alcoholic beverages to the Uganda Communications Commission attaching the Presidential Guidelines on Healthy lifestyles and any other documents by the Ministry or WHO showing all the unhealthy foods that have been identified by the Ministry so that the Commission can look into how to regulate the marketing of such foods and beverages, especially to children. The guidelines are being drafted by AWG and the MOH.
The Commission committed to working with the team to ensure regulation of marketing of foods and non-alcoholic beverages to children and to work with National Drug Authority, MOH and UNBS to ensure that the list detailing unhealthy foods and non-alcoholic beverages is produced for restriction.