Food-related health challenges of children and the role of the Consumer Protection Act 68 of 2008 in regulating unhealthy food advertising

Minenhle Hlongwane, Karunanidhi Reddy

Vol 19 | Issue 2 pp. 87-107


Childhood obesity and related health issues are becoming an increasing global concern. This article focuses on the role of the Consumer Protection Act 68 of 2008 (CPA) in limiting unhealthy food advertising. It examines the effect of the extensive advertising of unhealthy food products on children’s dietary choices, which can lead to negative health effects. Using a quantitative research design approach, data was collected through a survey using questionnaires administered to parents with children who are twelve years old or under in the Mpophomeni township area of KwaZulu-Natal. This study examines the prevalence and content of food advertisements aimed at children in both traditional and digital media. It looks at how these advertisements influence children’s dietary preferences, consumption patterns, and overall health. Furthermore, the study examines the CPA’s legal provisions directed at protecting consumers, particularly children, from deceptive and harmful advertising practices. The findings reveal a concerning link between exposure to unhealthy food advertising and childhood obesity, emphasising the critical need for regulatory intervention. The CPA, with its provisions on false and misleading advertising, provides a potential legal foundation for mitigating the detrimental impact of food marketing on children. However, enforcement challenges and discrepancies in existing legislation require attention. The article concludes by emphasising the significance of comprehensive policy approaches guided by empirical research to address food-related health concerns amongst children. Recommendations include enhancing regulatory mechanisms under the CPA, particularly those aimed at advertising to children, encouraging industry self-regulation, and boosting media literacy programmes.

Keywords: advertising, children, Consumer Protection Act, health challenges, non-communicable diseases, unhealthy food products

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