Companies active in the food sector will soon find it harder to promote their products when targeting children or young people. We have recently seen serious concerns spreading across Europe about nutritional disorder and obesity problems, especially among young people, frequently in relation to excessive consumption of junk food. Italy, the home country of the 'Mediterranean diet,' had to acknowledge that one out of four of its young people faces nutritional and weight problems.

In order to address what already has transformed into a 'national issue' Government and local administrations have started an initiative aimed at making certain types of food – such as soft drinks and snacks – less accessible to children. At the end of October 2014 the State Department of Health and the Councilors for Agriculture of the Regions, i.e. administrative districts with subsidiary legislative and regulatory competence (think of the 'States' in the US or of the 'Laender' in Germany), have undersigned a memorandum of understanding in order to favor healthier nutritional habits among young people. The protocol which the signing authorities have agreed on intends to strictly ban - in all places or venues publicly accessible - vending machines offering soft drinks (regardless if carbonated or containing sweeteners or nitrate additives) and snacks high in fat, sugar or salt will be banned. In such locations (and especially in schools) new machines should be made available, offering healthier food such as yogurt, fresh fruit, and sandwiches with genuine, high quality filling.

Advertisers will have to take these additional restrictions into account when conceiving their marketing strategies.

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