A Policy Dialogue was held, on the 30th of January, at the Directorate-General of Health of Portugal. This meeting was focused on the Advertisement of Food and Beverages to Children. The main objective of this Policy Dialogue was to gather a group of national stakeholders, in order to find ways to tackle this issue at a national level.
In this Policy Dialogue it was possible to shed a light on what each entity has done regarding this issue; to get to know what areas each entity considers more relevant, within this issue and to discuss the most effective way of regulation – regulation vs. self-regulation.
There was also an identification of the main barriers regarding the regulation of Advertisement of Food and Beverages to Children. Additionally, each entity stated their availability to develop new actions to tackle this issue in an intersectoral way. Afterwards, there was a debate to define a strategy towards the conclusion of the legislative process on the Portuguese Advertising Code that is already ongoing.
The Portuguese policy dialogue fits neatly with the Chrodis+ aim of adopting health promotion and primary prevention strategies as the best way to reduce the burden of chronic diseases. In this case it is through improving the environment that children and young people grow up in by maximising their opportunities to live long, healthy lives by focussing on health dietary practices.
All entities present in this Policy Dialogue were directly or indirectly working on issues related to this subject. In general, all entities agree with self-regulation but consider that it should coexist with regulation. It was said that the role of Health Literacy may be preponderant in changing behavior amongst children, young people and families. Regarding perceived barriers, digital media brings new challenges for the regulation of advertised content. Furthermore, the measures to be applied must focus not only on the media and digital platforms, but also on actions that attract children and young people, such as festivals, merchandising, sporting events, among others. It will be important to use digital influencers as partners for promoting healthier food choices and the “counter advertising” method may be a very important debunk to demystify myths about traditional advertising.
The next steps for Portugal will be to create a working group with the main stakeholders for the conclusion of the alteration of the Portuguese Advertising Code; and, regarding communication, to define several actions of Health Literacy for children, youth and families, through positive messages.