TAIPEI, Taiwan -- As obesity continues to be a challenge worldwide, the World Medical Association (WMA) has announced its support of taxes on junk food and sugary drinks and bans on advertising to children.
In a statement published at its recent annual meeting in Taipei, Taiwan, WMA said a program to prevent and address obesity "must include initiatives on price and availability of nutritious foods, access to education, advertising and marketing, information, labeling and others areas specific to regions and countries."
The organization called for the tax revenue to be used to fund research and prevention, but it especially challenged advertising that it said is "often scheduled" for times when there is "a large concentration of child viewers."
WMA delegates said the link between living in poverty and early childhood obesity continued to negatively affect health in adult life. They said recent studies showed that marketing targeted at children had a wide influence on the shopping trends and food preferences of households all over the world.
"We know there is a link between the extent of advertising and childhood obesity, and so we are recommending that the advertising of non-nutritious products on television be restricted during programs that appeal to children," said Ketan Desai, president of WMA. "Children frequently watch programs designed for adults, so regulators must ensure that legislation and regulation also limits marketing associated with such programs."
The WMA is an international organization representing physicians. It was founded in 1947 in Paris. Delegates from more than 40 national medical associations attended the annual general assembly of the WMA in Taipei Oct. 19-22.