Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Alicia Wang is pushing for the establishment of a national nutrition law, which would place certain restrictions on junk food ads and marketing methods, hopefully keeping children from being exposed to excessive amounts of junk food. During a question and answer session in the legislature on Oct. 18, Department of Health (DOH) Minister Chiu Wen-ta said that he agrees with Wang, adding that the DOH has already begun drafting legislation with new regulations.
Wang says that one in every four children or teenagers in Taiwan is overweight, and that when going from elementary school to junior high school, the problem gradually worsens as children get older. Chiu also said that from a global perspective the number of obese kids in Taiwan is average, but warns that obesity among children in Taiwan is actually the worst in all of Asia, adding that the problem involves genetic factors, the level of physical activity and lifestyle.
Wang says that the average child in Taiwan sees more than 8,000 ads for junk food annually, or an average of one ad every 6.6 minutes. With such a vast number of ads stimulating children, it significantly increases their desire to buy junk food, so the government needs to come up with policies restricting the ads, she says.
Chiu says that the DOH has already proposed legislation for a national nutrition law, which will hopefully help foster healthier dietary habits in people. The fourth article of the proposed law deals directly with the issue of junk food and how to prevent and restrict the amount of junk food ads being broadcast.
Which foods are considered junk foods? Wu Hsi-wen, a section chief at the administration, says that many nations lack clear definitions of what junk foods are, but says foods contributing to obesity and chronic diseases, along with fatty, salty and sugary foods and drinks should all be considered “junk.” At present, drafted legislation for the national nutrition law and proposed amendments to the Act Governing Food Sanitation have very broad definitions of junk foods, saying they are “foods that cause chronic diseases or foods that are not suitable for children to eat for an extended period of time.” Still, the answer to the question is not currently being discussed, but will hopefully eventually be included in future legislation after the law is passed.
(Liberty Times, Translated by Kyle Jeffcoat)