JOHANNESBURG: South African independent media watchdog, the Media Monitoring Project, this week expressed its concern at the relationship between media and marketing practices and the rising tide of obesity among the nation's children

Says MMP executive director William Bird: "Government and lobby groups around the world are discussing whether the regulation of food advertising to children is the next step in fighting the battle against childhood obesity.

"It is time that the representatives of the advertising and marketing industry come together to start finding South African solutions before we get to a point where regulation seems to be the only option."

The MMP has invited media and marketing stakeholders to engage proactively in forming a policy task force to draft local recommendations on food and drink advertising to children.

"Advertising plays an important role in society and economy. In terms of our constitution and all the legal provisions, children are afforded special protection," argues Bird.

"This protection does not exclude advertising and it means we have to take into consideration the current rise in childhood obesity."

The MMP is a human rights-driven non-governmental organisation, specialising in media monitoring. It declares its objective to be "promoting the development of a free, fair, ethical and critical media culture in South Africa and the rest of the continent".

Data sourced from (South Africa); additional content by WARC staff