The political economy of restricting marketing to address the double burden of malnutrition: two case studies from Fiji

Thow, Anne Marie, Waqa, Gade, Browne, Jennifer, Phillips, Tarryn, McMichael, Celia, Ravuvu, Amerita, Tutuo, Jillian and Gleeson, Deborah (2021) The political economy of restricting marketing to address the double burden of malnutrition: two case studies from Fiji. Public Health Nutrition, 24 (2). pp. 354-363. ISSN 1368-9800


Objective: To draw lessons from Fiji regarding the challenges and opportunities for policy initiatives to restrict (i) food marketing to children and (ii) marketing of breast milk substitutes, to inform policy for the double burden of malnutrition.
Design: Qualitative political economy analysis of two policy case studies.
Setting: Fiji.
Participants: Eleven key informants from relevant sectors, representing public health, economic and consumer interests.
Results: This study used two policy initiatives as case studies to examine factors influencing decision-making: Marketing Controls (Foods for Infants and Young Children) Regulations 2010, amended in 2016 to remove guidelines and restrictions on marketing in the form of labelling, and the draft Advertising and
Promotion of Unhealthy Foods and Non-Alcoholic Beverages to Children
Regulation developed in 2014 but awaiting review by the Solicitor General’s
Office. Factors identified included: a policy paradigm in which regulation of business activity contradicts economic policy goals; limited perception by key policy
actors of links between nutrition and marketing of breast milk substitutes, foods
and beverages; and a power imbalance between industry and public health stakeholders in policymaking. Regulation of marketing for health purposes sits within
the health sector’s interest but not its legislative remit, while within the economic
sector’s remit but not interest. Opportunities to strengthen restrictions on marketing to improve nutrition and health include reframing the policy issue, strategic
advocacy and community engagement.
Conclusions: Restricting marketing should be recognised by public health actors as
a public health and an industry policy issue, to support strategic engagement with
economic policy actors.

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