Thursday, February 11, 2010

Taiwan to ban junk food ads on kid’s TV

Taiwan’s Health Department is drafting a bill to help prevent childhood obesity by banning junk food advertising on children’s television programs. With 25 percent of Taiwanese children now classified as overweight, this is one way to counter the growing problem. The government is also seeking to be the first country in the world to impose a tax on unhealthy foods and soft drinks.

South Korea already has legislation in place stipulating that ads harmful to children should not be broadcasted between 4 pm and 6 pm. Britain also has similar laws, but Taiwan might be the only country to impose an added tax on high-calorie and low nutrition foods, such as carbonated soft drinks, sweets, cookies, chips and cakes.

In the United States, local governments already have an added “sin tax” on alcohol and tobacco products. This tax it used to offset the health problems that come from consumers who frequently use these products. Since obese children run the risk of contracting diabetes and heart disease later in life, a point can be made that junk food would also qualify for a “sin tax.”

TVBS television reported that the obesity rate of Taiwanese children is rapidly catching up with that of American children. At present, the obesity rate of Taiwanese boys ranges from 25 to 30 percent and that of Taiwanese girls is 20 to 25 percent. The numbers are not too far behind the US where 30 percent of American children are considered overweight. Although the numbers are alarming in themselves, the jump within just ten years is even more so. The obesity rate of Taiwanese boys between the ages of 2 and 18 was only 6 percent in the year 2000.

Compounding the problem is the more sedentary lifestyle of many people today. Playtime use to mean going outside to do physical activities, but nowadays, children are more likely to be found watching TV or playing video games indoors.

In addition to tackling childhood obesity, the bill, which will be passed in the Legislative Yuan, hopes to regulate the hazards associated with chewing betel nut, promote oral healthcare and reduce the misleading and harmful spread of cigarette marketing, especially targeting children and young adults.

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About Me

The Press Division of the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office (TECO) in San Francisco represents the Government Information Office (GIO), Executive Yuan, Republic of China (Taiwan). GIO maintains nine Press Divisions in the United States, including the San Francisco office. The Press Divisions are in charge of promoting Taiwan's public relations and cultural exchanges. This blog is updated by the Press Division, TECO in San Francisco.