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Home > Lifestyle News > Food News > Article > Ultra processed food ads misleading fuelling obesity and diabetes in India Report

Ultra-processed food ads misleading; fuelling obesity and diabetes in India: Report

Updated on: 07 July,2024 03:07 PM IST  |  New Delhi
IANS |

The recent ICMR-National Institute of Nutrition (NIN)'s dietary guidelines for Indians reveals that more than 10 per cent of 5-19- year-olds are pre-diabetic. This is when the government has set a target to halt the rise of obesity and diabetes among Indians by 2025

Ultra-processed food ads misleading; fuelling obesity and diabetes in India: Report

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Advertisements of unhealthy food products with high salt (HFSS) food products, or ultra-processed food (UPF) are misleading and are "seductive, luring, manipulative or deceptive" people to buy and in turn increasing the incidences of obesity and diabetes, according to a new report on Friday.  


The report '50 Shades of Food Advertising', by the Nutrition Advocacy in Public Interest (NAPi), is based on an observational study of the appeal in 50 advertisements of food products that have appeared in popular English and Hindi newspapers available in Delhi and also took note of some of the ads that appeared in TV commercials during cricket games or few on social media.




It calls upon the government to amend existing regulations to end these misleading ads.

The report comes as India is facing persistent undernutrition among children under five, and a rising trend of obesity and diabetes among grown-ups.

The recent ICMR-National Institute of Nutrition (NIN)'s dietary guidelines for Indians reveals that more than 10 per cent of 5-19- year-olds are pre-diabetic. This is when the government has set a target to halt the rise of obesity and diabetes among Indians by 2025.

The report provides evidence that food and drink products under the category of unhealthy/HFSS or UPFs "are being advertised by using different appeals such as evoking emotional feelings, manipulating the use of experts, appropriating benefits of real fruits, using celebrities to add value to the brand, projecting as healthy, etc".

It noted that these advertisements mislead on many counts; and also provide information on the gaps in the existing legislations, such as the FSS Act of 2006, the Cable TV Networks Regulation Act, 1994 and Rules, the Consumer Protection Act of 2019, and the Norms of Journalistic Conduct 2022.

Arun Gupta, a pediatrician and NAPi convenor, called on the government to implement measures for "each advertisement to disclose in bold letters the amount of nutrient of concern per 100 gram/ml".

It would be in the best interest of the people's health that a public health 'Bill' is proposed in the Parliament to halt obesity. If we fail to halt the rising trend, it will only increase the disease and economic burden, year by year on the individual family and the health system as a whole,” he added.

NAPi also recommends stopping any food advertisements if the food product is HFSS and UPF.

The report also provides an objective method of identifying what is misleading food advertising to help authorities like the FSSAI make a quick decision to stop it, said Nupur Bidla, a member of NAPi and a social scientist, adding that the delay in banning the ads helps "companies to enjoy the 'freedom' to advertise and make money while public health may suffer".

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