The ATNI Global Index will be published every two years. The third Global Index is planned for publication in March 2018. The methodology will need to be continuously updated for future indexes to ensure it remains in line with emerging consensus on good corporate practices, new formal assessments, guidelines and policies issued by authoritative international bodies like the WHO and Codex, and changes in the expectations of all ATNI’s stakeholders. A reasonable comparability between 2018 and 2016, however, is expected as future changes should be more of an incremental nature.
During the consultations, a number of topics arose for which no consensus guidelines on good practices currently exist and where developing greater agreement among companies and other stakeholders around the world would be valuable and facilitate benchmarking and monitoring of progress.
Key examples of areas where widely agreed guidelines are needed are as follows:
Nutrient Profiling. Other than the 2013 WHO (Europe) Nutrient Profiling System for restricting marketing to children, there is no widely-agreed system to underpin companies’ formulation of products to improve nutritional quality or healthfulness. Comparisons between companies are difficult when they apply different methods to measure the nutritional content of their products. Many different product profiling systems have been suggested or are in use by individual companies, trade associations or industry self-regulatory bodies or by government agencies. Food and beverage marketing (advertising and promotion). Consensus guidelines applicable to all consumers would be helpful. In particular, a stronger, uniform set of global principles for marketing to children is needed. The existing pledges that companies sign up for (EU Pledge, Children’s Food and Beverage Advertising Initiative (CFBAI) and International Food and Beverage Alliance (IFBA), as well as other national pledges) are inconsistent.
Front of Pack (FOP) labeling. Several different systems are developing around the world and recommendations have been made for characteristics that would be most helpful to consumers, e.g. a protocol that uses an interpretative format.
Formal guidelines on appropriate roles for companies’ in educating consumers on healthy nutrition. Many companies develop and run their own programs to encourage healthier diets and active lifestyles. Other stakeholders believe that companies should not play an active or high profile role in such initiatives because of the difficulty of separating these efforts from marketing. An international dialogue and clear guidelines on this issue would aid progress.
Companies’ role in public-private partnerships. Other than the AA Stakeholder Engagement Standard on public-private partnerships, there are no clear guidelines on the do’s and don’ts when companies partner with governments or NGOs on nutrition research, education, or prevention and treatment programs.
Combating Undernutrition. In general there are no guidelines and no consensus on what the appropriate role for companies’ is in fighting undernutrition, which is an area of generally poor performance in ATNI 2016. There are no clear guidelines, for example, regarding companies’ role in:
In the second edition of the Index, ATNI has conducted a much more comprehensive analysis of the BMS marketing practices of selected companies compared to the first Index. This is to respond to stakeholder criticisms of the limited approach taken in the 2013 Index. As a result, ATNF has identified areas where guidance could be strengthened in order to improve stakeholders’ understanding of key issues and to facilitate scoring. With respect to promoting responsible BMS marketing in line with The Code and subsequent WHA resolutions, the WHO could make a valuable contribution were it to: 1) clarify further its definition of products covered by The Code, and 2) set out clearer definitions of some terms used in The Code that may be interpreted differently by stakeholders. In addition, ATNF encourages the International Association of Formula Manufacturers (IFM) to strengthen the Rules of Responsible Conduct to bring them more fully into line with The Code so that the practices of its members who adhere to these Rules are also better aligned. It would also be valuable to future ATNI assessments, and likely other organizations, were UNICEF and other stakeholders to update the IGBM Protocol in ways outlined in the report. Finally, ATNF will seek to continue to encourage greater discussion among all BMS stakeholders on how the BMS industry – companies large and small in all markets – might pursue marketing practices fully in line with The Code and subsequent WHA resolutions.
ATNF will raise all of the above issues in discussions with various stakeholders in the coming year (including governments, policymakers, investors, nutrition experts and researchers) to encourage further discussion of them and steps forward. ATNF will also take work forwards in some of these areas, and would like to partner with others who would also like to do so. The aim of this work would be to move the nutrition agenda forwards together and ultimately to incorporate new guidance and consensus into the ATNI methodology for future Global Indexes.
The Access to Nutrition Index rates food and beverage manufacturers´ nutrition-related policies, practices and disclosures worldwide on a recurring basis.
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