This systematic review examined the effectiveness of policies restricting the marketing of foods and/or non-alcoholic beverages to children to inform updated World Health Organization (WHO) guidelines. Databases were searched to March 2020. Inclusion criteria were primary studies of any design assessing implemented policies to restrict food marketing to children (0-19 years). Critical outcomes were exposure to and power of marketing, dietary intake, choice, preference, and purchasing. Important outcomes were purchase requests, dental caries, body weight, diet-related non-communicable diseases, product change and unintended consequences. Forty-four observational studies met inclusion criteria; most were moderate quality. Pooling was conducted using vote counting by direction of effect and GRADE was used to judge evidence certainty. Evidence suggests food marketing policies may result in reduced purchases of unhealthy foods, and in unintended consequences favorable for public health. Desirable or potentially desirable (for public health) effects of policies on food marketing exposure and power were also found. Evidence on diet and product change was very limited. The certainty of evidence was very low for four outcomes (exposure, power, dietary intake, product change) and low for two (purchasing, unintended consequences). Policies can effectively limit food marketing to children; policymakers should prioritise mandatory approaches aligned with WHO recommendations.
- systematic review