5 actions government can take to protect children from food and beverage marketing

Government action is necessary to protect children from exposure to food and beverage marketing. The federal government has taken a great step forward by committing to introduce restrictions on the commercial marketing of unhealthy food and beverages to children, but action is also important at the provincial and municipal level. Here are five ways governments can take action to support parents and from the harmful effects of food and beverage marketing:

  1. Restrict exposure to food and beverage marketing in public places where children gather including childcare settings, schools and school grounds, libraries, public transit, recreation centres, parks, playgrounds, sporting or cultural activities, as well as hospitals.
  2. Conduct a review of food and beverage marketing and sole-sourced contracts. Results can help provide a clearer understanding of marketing in child-focused settings and can highlight opportunities to create healthier food environments.
  3. Endorse the Ottawa Principles which call for the restriction of commercial marketing of all food and beverages to children aged 16 and under, with the exception of non-commercial marketing for public education.
  4. Review zoning restrictions close to child-focused settings including schools and playgrounds, in existing neighbourhoods and in new developments as they are planned. It is easier to put restrictions in place before new schools and child-focused settings are built instead of after the fact.
  5. Educate Canadians about the risks associated with unhealthy food and beverage consumption through public awareness and education campaigns. Provincially, media literacy can be included as part of school curriculum to address marketing to children.

Check out some of the ways that innovative Canadian provinces and municipalities are already taking action here. Let’s build on this momentum. Send an e-card and let your MP know that stopping marketing to kids is important to you and call on them to take action.

By Elizabeth Holmes, Health Policy Analyst, Canadian Cancer Society
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