Open Letter: Passage of Bill S-228 – restricting marketing of junk food to children

Hill Times

An Open Letter addressed to Canadian Senators from Heart and Stroke signed by a group of medical doctors, public health and nutrition experts.

Except: “As a group of medical doctors, public health and nutrition experts concerned about the millions of children living in Canada that will be affected by diet-related disease we are writing to express our support for the speedy passage of Bill S-228. This legislation proposes to restrict the marketing of junk foods to children 12 years and under and was spearheaded by your former Senate colleague Nancy Greene Raine…

Many Senators have heard pleas from the food and beverage industry, however, it’s important that we speak up for those that this legislation will protect; our children. Let’s be clear about the facts: Read full letter here


Canadian Common Sense – Bill S-228

Global News Radio

A great interview with one of our Coalition’s Co-Chairs, Dr. Tom Warshawski talking about the concerns around food and beverage marketing to children and the Senate delay. Listen here… 
Sample Tweet: Retweet Albert Policy Coalition

Is the food industry still calling the shots in formulating healthy eating regulations?

Blog: Enlightened Eater – Rosie Schwarts, RD

Consulting Dietitian and Writer, Rosie Schwartz addresses the troubling industry involvement in the Health Eating Strategy and the federal government’s responsiveness to their tactics.  Read here… 

Sample tweet: Retweet Dietitians of Canada

The Big Squeeze: Inside the fight over juice in Canada’s Food Guide

Great investigative article by Ann Hui exposing Big Food/Big Juice’s lobby tactics and efforts to propagate industry-funded research to justify juice within the Canadian Food Guide and broader Healthy Eating Strategy. 

Quote from Dr. David Hammond: “I would say [the juice industry] is acting equally as forcefully as tobacco companies to protect their interests”. 

Sample Tweet: Retweet Nick Saul  | Retweet Heart & Stroke

Judge Gives Green Light to Class Action Against McDonald’s in Quebec 

Montreal Gazette

The class-action lawsuit against McDonald’s has received a preliminary authorization to allow the lawsuit to be filed on behalf of a group, or class. Dating back to November 2013, anyone who purchased a toy or Happy Meal in Quebec with a child under 13 (who was present for the purchase) are now part of the suit. The suit is also seeking reimbursement for the cost of toys purchased, as well as punitive damages. Read article here… 

Sample Tweet: Judge rules go ahead on class action lawsuit in #Quebec against McDonald’s Canada arguing that Happy Meals and their accompanying toys illegally advertise to children can go ahead #Marketing2Kids

Happy Meal: Lawsuit

CTV Montreal

McDonald’s is the subject of a class action lawsuit. The lawsuit claims that McDonald’s marketing to children violates Quebec’s Consumer Protection Laws. Segment includes interview with Coalition member, Corinne Voyer, Director of Coalition Poids.

Additional Coverage: Huffington Post

Big ideas or Big Food? It’s time for Canada’s Healthy Eating Strategy.

A great OpEd by Food Secure Canada on the importance of the Healthy Eating Strategy; but, what’s the hold up?

Excerpt: “As we wait for the promised Food Policy for Canada, the government must decide if it will implement some Big Ideas in the public interest, or if it will allow Big Food to hold the rest of us back.” Read more here…

Sample Tweet: @FoodSecureCA “…better food policy is about more than the market. We need government to firmly act in the public interest and implement some bold new ideas.” #BillS228 #Marketing2Kids

Junk Food Marketing to Kids

CTV Winnipeg

  • Great interview with Amanda Nash, a registered Dietitian with the Heart & Stroke.

  • Highlights the frequency and impact of unhealthy food and beverage marketing to children, recent research by Monique Potvin Kent (shared last week), as well as the importance of Bill S-228 and the Healthy Eating Strategy.

  • Sample Tweet: Retweet Heart & Stroke:

Canadian kids see thousands of ads for unhealthy food on social media: study


  • “Nearly three-quarters of Canadian children are exposed to food marketing while using popular social media apps, a new study from the University of Ottawa found.”
  • The study found that children see almost 6,000 ads per year on social media (Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter and YouTube), the majority of which promote “ultra-processed foods and beverages high in fat, salt or sugar…”. The study found that “85 percent of the food and beverage products advertised were categorized as ultra-processed, while 97 per cent were products deemed high in fat, sodium, or sugar.”
  • “Sometimes kids are actually sending food and beverage ads to other children” (Dr. Potvin Kent – video).
  • “With digital food and beverage marketing parents are not aware because you’re not sitting beside your child all the time… when kids are watching TV you do tend to be more aware but it’s really important that parents know what their child’s exposure is on social media. Technically children aren’t supposed to be on social media, you’re supposed to be 12 or 13 before you can even have an account but many kids as young as 7 have accounts…” (Dr. Potvin Kent – video)
  • “This level of exposure may greatly influence children’s perception of a normal diet, as well as their food preferences and the foods they actually consume” (Dr. Monique Potvin Kent)
  • “Despite the extensive body of evidence that shows food marketing shapes children’s dietary behaviours, Canada currently lacks formal regulations marketing junk food to children outside of a traditional broadcast environment.” Rather, 18 large companies, including Coca Cola, Kraft, and McDonalds, created the Children’s Food and Beverage Advertising initiative which committed to advertising “healthier” products to children under 12. Bill S-228 “seeks to amend the Food and Drug Act to restrict marketing of unhealthy food and beverages to children”.

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Not your grandmother’s commercials: ‘Kidvertising’ in the digital age 

Ottawa Citizen 

  • “A new study by University of Ottawa researchers [lead by Dr. Monique Potvin Kent] found that 72 per cent of children and youth were exposed to food marketing through social media in a single 10-minute window.” The research suggests that “young social media users are exposed to more than 12 food and beverage snacks every hour [and about] 90 per cent of the products promoted in these ads are unhealthy.”
  • “These are not your grandmother’s commercials. Food and beverage manufacturers have neuropsychologists working with them. They use MRIs. It’s hard to defend yourself against ads.” (Dr. Potvin Kent)
  • “We have seen a huge proliferation of ads online. Entertainment is blended with marketing. It’s hard for children to understand that they’re being marketed to” (Dr. Potvin Kent)
    · While studies have shown that children have brand awareness by age two, they start to recognize something as an ad by age six and do not begin to think critically about what they view until age 11 or 12.
  • Children also use social media to follow their favourite products and encourage their friends to do so as well and are therefore “…doing the work of a marketing firm…” (Dr. Potvin Kent).
  • “Children 11, 12 and 13 years old are doing the work of a marketing firm when they’re forwarding things to their friends,” said Dr. Potvin Kent. 
  • If Bill S-228 becomes law, “Health Canada would be responsible for creating the regulations around it. ‘There is no silver bullet, but this will help,’ said [Nancy Greene] Raine”.
  • Nancy Greene Raine stated: “The advertisers know it works. If you create a customer by the age of 10, you have a dedicated customer for life.” 

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