More measures are needed to regulate marketing for unhealthy foods that target children online, a European health agency said Friday.
Digital marketing offers a loophole for marketers and also forms children's dietary habits, according to a report from Copenhagen-based European office of the World Health Organization.
Other findings were that "online adverts can be tailored to specific audiences" such as children, while parents do not see the same advertisements or do not always observe the online activities of their children.
Children "are exposed to countless numbers of hidden digital marketing techniques promoting foods high in fat, sugar and salt," said Zsuzsanna Jakab, head of the WHO European office.
The report also noted how firms can draw on the prevalence of smartphones among children, using geolocation data to launch ads and "special offers in real time when users are in an area in which specific products are sold."
Some gaming companies and food chains also partner up to include restaurants as game locations.
The WHO estimates that a quarter of all schoolchildren in Europe are overweight or obese. Obesity can cause health issues such as heart disease and diabetes.
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