Nutrition Experts Optimistic About New Canada Food Guide to Be Released This Spring

The Epoch Times

“A food policy issue both experts agree on is the new legislation banning the advertising of unhealthy foods to children. The Child Health Protection Act is now in its second reading in the House of Commons and is set to be passed this year”. Read article…



Tell Food Industry Our Kids are Not Their Business

On January 6, 2008, I lost a vibrant, healthy and much loved 15-year-old son.  I believe a contributing cause to his death was consumption of an energy drink sample at a sporting event.  You can read more about my son’s death on my facebook awareness page.

Industry marketed directly to my son.

Since then, I have done extensive research on the potentially fatal effects of energy drinks and marketing to kids. Three deaths associated with energy drinks are documented in Health Canada’s database, all teenage deaths (1). It has been estimated that for every adverse report filed, up to ten go unreported. My research strongly suggests the unreported number may be much higher.

Experts continue to question the safety of energy drinks’ ingredient cocktail, not just their caffeine content. There are no long-term studies that prove the safety of energy drinks. On the contrary, emerging research strongly suggests they pose a public health threat. In 2010, Health Canada appointed an Expert Panel on Caffeinated Energy Drinks. They came back with very strong recommendations to mitigate safety concerns related to these products most of which were never addressed.

Energy drinks are the worst case example of industry marketing an unhealthy – and potentially dangerous product – to children and youth. This must stop.

My three primary goals are to:

  1. Protect children and youth from the potentially fatal effects of energy drinks. First, by treating these products like tobacco, alcohol, and fireworks, through a ban on sale to minors. Second, through federal legislation restricting the commercial marketing of foods and beverages to children.
  2. Raise awareness of the potential dangers of energy drinks through education programs, point of sale signage, and separate shelf placement.
  3. Encourage more research on the health risks associated with caffeinated energy drinks.

Currently, there is nothing to stop industry from marketing to another young member of my family. This must change. Voluntary self-regulation by industry of marketing to children has proven an abysmal failure. Regulations with stiff penalties are needed to mitigate the risk energy drinks and their abusive marketing pose to children and youth.

I’ve voiced my concerns on several occasions and continue this dialogue with all levels of government in Canada. On June 8, 2010, I appeared as a witness in Ottawa before the Standing Committee on Health. More recently, I presented to the Toronto Board of Health (March 20, 2017), and the Ottawa Board of Health (April 3, 2017).

On January 6, 2016, in a letter addressed to Prime Minister Trudeau, I offered my strong support for the Liberal campaign promise to restrict the marketing of unhealthy foods and beverages to children. I implored the Prime Minister to give special consideration to energy drinks and related caffeinated energy products when developing those regulations. More so, I stressed that children and youth are bombarded with the adventurous and trendy marketing associated with these drinks. Teenagers must also be protected from abusive marketing, not just those 12 and under.

No other family should have to live with the questions that my family does. Sadly, I have connected with several others families who have shared similar losses, more than one of them in Canada. They all share my suspicions.

I urge you to take action.  Tell government to restrict the commercial marketing of foods and beverages to children and youth. Send an e-card to your MP letting them know marketing to kids must stop. Together, our message is stronger. Food and beverage companies must be told, our kids are not their business.

By Jim Shepherd


  1. Canada Vigilance Summary of Reported Adverse Reactions. Canadian Vigilance Database. Health Canada. December 19, 2013. Accessed via:

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We Need To Use Every Tool To Fix Our Unhealthy Diets

The Huffington Post | Yves Savoie, CEO of Heart & Stroke

We need to use every tool to fix our unhealthy diets It is encouraging to see federal government moving in several important areas to help Canadians make better food and beverage choices We can’t cure heart disease or diabetes. But we can help prevent or delay them and other chronic illnesses in one vital way — with a healthier diet. Read more… 



Trevor Hancock: Protect our kids from unhealthy advertising

Times Colonist

Which brings me to the marketing of unhealthy food and beverages to our kids, especially sugar-rich products they do not need and that are contributing to the epidemic of obesity, heart disease, diabetes and other health problems. Here is another situation where government is not doing enough to protect us from harm. Read article here… 

Eat This! How Fast Food Marketing Gets You to Buy Junk (and how to fight back)

Tune in to listen to an exclusive interview with Author, Andrea Curtis. Andrea’s latest book

Eat This! How Fast Food Marketing Gets You to Buy Junk (and how to fight back) will be published by Red Deer Press this year. Eat This! is a guide to recognizing the marketing tricks companies use to sell foods and beverages to children. Learn about the increasingly complex and subliminal tactics used to market to kids. Find out what others are doing to combat them, and what you can do to help. Andrea Curtis is an award-winning writer for adults and children. She has a longtime interest in food politics. Joining Andrea, is Malcolm Clark, coordinator of the Children’s Food Campaign, a project of charity Sustain: the alliance for better food and farming, and Helena O’Donnell Project Manager of the Irish Heart Foundation’s advocacy campaign Stop Targeting Kids.

To view or download a PDF copy of the slides, click the links below:

Eat This! Andrea Curtis


Junk-food ban in Canadian schools is working, study finds

The Canada Press // Toronto Star – Michael McDonald
New research has found that students exposed to a school junk-food ban have a lower BMI on average than those who are not. Read more… 

The Dangers of Marketing to Kids Makes Waves on Parliament Hill

Our children and youth are bombarded with ads for unhealthy foods and beverages all day, every day. These ads are influencing their food and beverage choices, and having a devastating effect on their health.

This Valentine’s Day, we met with more than 60 Members of Parliament and Senators to discuss the dangers of marketing to kids at Heart on theHill.

The case for ending the onslaught of food and beverage marketing is crystal clear.  New research found children are exposed to 25 million food and beverage ads a year on their favourite websites. Over 90% of products viewed by kids and teens online are unhealthy – high in salt, fat and/or sugar.

It’s time to protect our children and support parents. Canada must restrict food and beverage marketing to kids. Read the Heart & Stroke 2017 Report on the Health of Canadians for more information about how you can get involved. 

Stop Marketing to Kids Coalition Group Photo Feb. 13, 2017
Photo Credit: Jana Chytilova


By Ashley Hughes, Registered Dietitian and Coordinator for the Stop Marketing to Kids Coalition


Editor’s Note: Heart on the Hill is an annual event hosted by the Heart & Stroke Foundation. On February 14, 2017, Members of Parliament, Senators and staff were invited to attend a Valentine’s Day reception. Members of the Canadian Cancer Society, Food Secure Canada, the Canadian Dental Association, and Diabetes Canada attended the photo-op on parliament hill and evening reception. Discussions with Members of Parliament and Senators focused on children’s health, and the dangers of marketing to kids and sugar-sweetened beverages. 


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Not so Happy Meals: McDonald’s faces class action lawsuit in Quebec

A father in Quebec argues children are being marketed to by the fast food mogul, McDonald’s, and he wants it to stop. Marketing to kids under 13 years of age is illegal according to Quebec’s Consumer Protection Act. The father believes McDonald’s is advertising to kids by showcasing toy cases in their restaurants right at children’s eye level.

“Whatever it is, good food or not, marketing to kids is not allowed in Quebec,” says Corinne Voyer, Director of the Weight Coalition in Quebec.

Voyer notes marketing foods and beverages to children is a problem recognized by the World Health Organization in the obesity epidemic.

McDonald’s is now facing a class action lawsuit in Quebec. Global News Reporter Gloria Henriquez tells the full story.

WATCH: Not so Happy Meals: McDonald’s faces class action lawsuit in Quebec

Take the Fight Out of Food

Support Parents to Raise Healthy, Happy and Mindful Eaters

As a registered dietitian and mom of three, my hope is to raise healthy, happy and mindful eaters, and to help nurture their relationships with food in a positive way. I want my kids to be able to strike a healthy balance between nutrition, and pleasure when it comes to food. Believe me though, I’m no stranger to food-related power struggles, which helps me to relate to my clients and readers who include parents who are trying to navigate the tricky world of feeding kids and picky eating.

I was thrilled to see that this year’s Nutrition Month theme is  “Take The Fight Out of Food”, a campaign dedicated to supporting Canadians to stop their struggles with food (one of which is picky eating) and seek help from a dietitian.

This is a very common issue in households, not only because kids are trying to assert their independence and gain some sense of control with food, but also because there are so many external factors influencing their food preferences and requests including marketing to children. Just the other day, my son asked me if we could buy juice boxes at the grocery store because he saw an ad with a child reaching for one in a school cafeteria on TV. If feeding young kids wasn’t challenging enough, food ads targeted at kids are setting families up for failure in the nutrition department.

Good nutrition is critical to our kids’ health. Risk factors for premature heart disease, stroke and diabetes are at an all-time high, not to mention the fact that almost one in three kids have excess weight or obesity. My kids have a leg up in this department, having a mom who is also a pediatric dietitian. But what about other kids?

The food landscape is changing in Canada. In fact, it’s the first time in history that some kids’ diets have been dominated by unhealthy, nutrient-poor, processed foods and beverages for their entire lives. Because chronic diseases represent the largest share of our direct healthcare costs – an estimated $68 billion annually – this should be a concern for all Canadians, not just parents.

I try to limit my older kids’ screen time to no more than about an hour per day, but even so, they will be exposed to four to five food or beverage ads during that hour (just like the juice box commercial that my son watched!). Even more shocking, kids see over 25 million food and beverage ads a year on their favorite websites, and over 90% of these ads are unhealthy.

Because they are still young (6 years and under), they’re likely not able to understand the persuasive nature of food adsi, however I can see that something is triggered in my oldest son’s brain when he watches an ad for sugary cereal or fruit snacks. Whether it simply piques his interest: “Mom, can we buy this at the store?”, or a triggers a sudden—and likely false—sense of hunger: “Mom, I’m hungry!”, it most certainly has an effect, and might even influence his eating habits long term.

For most families, there are several factors at play when it comes to eating habits—access to healthy foods, nutrition knowledge, cooking skills and financial limitations. And, it’s no surprise that marketing unhealthy foods to kids can influence parents purchasing habits too. Let’s be honest—when a parent is grocery shopping with kids in tow, it’s a lot easier to dodge a meltdown and give into a sugary granola bar request than not.

And marketers are well aware of how strongly kids drive family grocery purchases, and they also know that these kids will potentially become life-long purchasers. What makes matters worse—especially for kids and families who struggle financially—is the fact that the easiest, most accessible and heavily marketed foods and beverages are often the most nutrient-poor and calorie-dense. In fact, these products are now 60% of the average family’s food purchases.

Parents are doing their best, but unfortunately our food environment is working against them… and their kids.

Most Canadians share my concern with unhealthy food and beverage marketing to kids and are ready for change. The change certainly needs to happen at home, with parents nurturing healthy eating habits and positive relationships with food. However, the biggest change of all needs to happen at the government level, to stop the marketing of unhealthy foods to kids, which would surely help parents in their efforts to raise healthy and mindful eaters.

We all need to step forward and support the Stop Marketing to Kids Coalition efforts and pledge to ‘Take the Fight out of Food’ this March during Nutrition Month. Visit for details.

i. Dietitians of Canada. 2010. Advertising of Food and Beverages to Children. Position of Dietitians of Canada, December 2010. Accessible here:

By Sarah Remmer, RD. Sarah is a Calgary-based pediatric dietitian who owns a nutrition consulting and communications company, Sarah Remmer Nutrition Consulting. Sarah is also a member of Dietitians of Canada. Connect with Sarah on Facebook, and Twitter and Instagram: @sarahremmer

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