Considering the best interests of the child when marketing food to children: an analysis of the South African regulatory framework

Mills, Lize (2016-12)

Thesis (LLD)--Stellenbosch University, 2016

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT : This thesis seeks to establish whether the South African government fulfils its international and constitutional obligations by applying the standard of the best interests of the child when food-marketing practices to children are employed. According to the World Health Organisation, overweight and obesity ranks as the fifth leading risk for death globally. It is therefore of particular concern to note that the WHO reports that in 2013 more than 42 million children under the age of five were overweight or obese. Although the reasons for the tremendous increase in global obesity rates can be complex and a number of factors contribute to the associated rise in noncommunicable diseases, research has shown that the heavy marketing of fast food and energy-dense, micronutrient-poor foods and beverages is a probable causal factor in weight gain and obesity. It has been established and accepted that there is a relationship between the marketing of food and children’s dietary choices and consumption. Moreover, studies from all over the world show that the foods which are most often marketed to children, are foods which are nutritionally poor and which contain high levels of salt, sugar and fat. Consequently, the WHO and other bodies have called for a restriction to be placed on the marketing of nutritionally poor foods to children. This thesis entails a discussion and an analysis of South Africa’s response to this call. It describes and assesses this country’s regulatory efforts regarding the marketing of food to children, comparing it to standards set by both international law and methods of regulation in other jurisdictions. The aim of the thesis is to assess the implementation of South Africa’s international and constitutional obligations in this respect, focussing in particular on the duty to regard the best interests of children as a matter of paramount importance and primary concern. The concept of the best interests of the child has been firmly entrenched in international law, the South African Constitution and South African legislation and jurisprudence. Since the Committee on the Rights of the Child has confirmed that the best interests of the child is a substantive right of itself, while also being a rule of procedure and a method of interpretation, it is also true that the implementation of this right may have an effect on other fundamental rights and freedoms. The thesis provides some suggestions as to how to achieve a proportional balance between the best interests of the child and the rights of the food and media industries, and of parents in South Africa, whilst bearing in mind that children’s interests are more important than anything else.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING : Hierdie tesis stel ten doel om vas te stel of die Suid-Afrikaanse regering sy internasionale en grondwetlike verpligtinge nakom deur die standaard van die beste belang van die kind toe te pas wanneer kosprodukte aan kinders bemark word. Volgens die Wêreldgesondheidsorganisasie (WGO), is oorgewig en vetsug die vyfde grootste risiko faktor vir sterftes. Daarom is dit veral kommerwekkend dat die WGO rapporteer dat meer as 42 miljoen kinders in 2013 oorgewig of vetsugtig was. Alhoewel die redes is vir die geweldige en wêreldwye toename in vetsug syfers kompleks is, en ‘n verskeidenheid faktore ‘n rol speel in die verwante styging in nie-oordraagbare siektes, het navorsing bewys dat die aggressiewe bemarking van gemorskos en ander kos met baie kalorieë maar weinig mikro-nutriënte, ‘n waarskynlike kousale faktor in gewigstoename en vetsug is. Verskeie studies het dit bevestig en dit word aanvaar dat daar ‘n verwantskap is tussen die bemarking van kos en die keuses en verbruik van kos deur kinders. Daar is verdermeer bewys dat die kosprodukte wat die meeste aan kinders bemark word, kosse is wat baie min nutriënte maar hoë vlakke van sout, suiker en vet bevat. Die WGO en ander liggame bepleit daarom ‘n beperking op die bemarking van hierdie kosse aan kinders. Hierdie tesis bevat ‘n bespreking en ‘n analise van Suid-Afrika se reaksie tot hierdie pleidooi. Dit bespreek en evalueer die land se metodes van regulering ten opsigte van die bemarking van kos aan kinders, deur die metodes te vergelyk met die standaarde wat deur die internasionale reg en ander jurisdiksies se reguleringsmeganismes gestel word. Die doel van die tesis is om die implementering van Suid-Afrika se internasionale en grondwetlike verpligtinge in hierdie opsig, te beoordeel, terwyl daar spesifiek gefokus word op die plig om die beste belang van die kind te beskou as ‘n aangeleentheid van deurslaggewende en primêre belang. Die konsep van die beste belang van die kind is verskans in die internasionale reg, die Suid-Afrikaanse Grondwet en Suid-Afrikaanse wetgewing en regsleer. Aangesien die Komitee van die Regte van die Kind bevestig het dat die beste belang van die kind ‘n substantiewe reg opsig self is, asook ‘n prosedurele reël en ‘n metode van interpretasie, is dit ook waar dat die implementering van hierdie reg ‘n effek op ander fundamentele regte en vryhede kan hê. Hierdie tesis verskaf ‘n aantal voorstelle ten opsigte van ‘n proporsionele balans tussen die beste belang van die kind en die regte van die kos en media industrieë, en die van ouers in Suid-Afrika, terwyl dit in ag geneem moet word dat kinders se belange belangriker is as enige iets anders.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/100245
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