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Considering proposal to curb advertisements of junk foods targeted at children: Consumer Affairs Ministry official

The Ministry will most likely be releasing new guidelines on 'misleading ads' under the Consumer Protection Act of 2019 by the end of the month

Amid concerns over rising childhood obesity, the Consumer Affairs Ministry is considering a proposal to curb advertisements of junk foods targeted at children under new guidelines on 'misleading ads' to be released soon, a senior official from the Ministry told PTI. 

A suggestion in this regard was made by the Ministry of Women and Child Development (WCD) in a recent meeting where the draft guidelines on 'misleading advertisements' were discussed in detail.

"We have received several suggestions from the WCD ministry on advertisements on junk foods targeted at children. We are examining those suggestions," said the senior official. 

The PTI report stated that stopping junk food ads during children's programs, promotion of correct health narrative in advertisements and specifying nutritional facts of junk foods are some of the suggestions that the WCD ministry has made, the official added.

It is learnt that the guidelines, being prepared under the Consumer Protection Act of 2019, are most likely to be released by the end of March.

The WCD ministry has also cited figures from the National Family Health Survey that show rising obesity among children in the country.

Further, the Ministry official said the Food Safety and Standards Authority (FSSAI) has also come out with regulations on the display of nutritional facts on food labels for pre-packaged foods.

That apart, the government's think-tank Niti Aayog in its 2021-22 annual report has said India can take actions such as taxation of foods high in sugar, fat and salt, and front-of-the-pack labelling to tackle rising obesity in the population.

The final consultation with the concerned ministries and stakeholders on the draft of the Central Consumer Protection Authority (Prevention of Misleading Advertisements and Necessary Due Diligence for Endorsement of Advertisements) Guidelines, 2021 has been completed.

"A final call on including the provisions related to 'advertisements targeted at children’ in the final guidelines needs to be taken," the official added.

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