Children’s Right to Freedom From Obesity: Responsibilities of the Food Industry

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Governments have failed to adequately tackle the rise in childhood obesity rates worldwide. Instead, food and beverage companies are increasingly relied upon to support public health efforts to prevent childhood obesity. Yet, the suitability of companies as public health partners must be questioned. This article asks whether international human rights law places responsibilities on food and beverage companies that could mitigate inherent conflicts. Companies’ responsibilities in relation to children’s rights to health and adequate food in the context of childhood obesity are analysed with reference to, inter alia, the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, the Children’s Rights and Business Principles and the Convention on the Rights of the Child. The human rights reports of a selection of major food and beverage companies are then evaluated in light of these sources. This article determines that, so far, the food and beverage companies reviewed have failed to acknowledge their impact on nutrition focused rights. Existing guidance leaves companies with too much flexibility to mitigate conflicts effectively. It is argued that stronger indicators on companies’ responsibilities to respect children’s right to freedom from obesity are necessary.
Original languageEnglish
JournalNordic Journal of Human Rights
Issue number2
Pages (from-to)109-131
Number of pages23
Publication statusPublished - 2018

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