Why now? Time to stop marketing to kids in Canada

You may be asking yourself why stop marketing to kids and why now? Momentum has been building. Health organizations met in November 2014 to discuss the latest evidence around food and beverage marketing to children and developed the framework for what would become the Ottawa Principles. Since that meeting, 30 organizations across Canada have endorsed the Ottawa Principles.

Prior to the 2015 federal election, both the NDP and Liberal parties committed to introducing restrictions on the commercial marketing on unhealthy food and beverages to children. After the election, the Prime Minister reinforced this commitment by making these restrictions a top priority in the November 2015 mandate letter to the newly appointed Minister of Health, Dr. Jane Philpott.

The World Health Organization has repeatedly listed restrictions to marketing to kids as a policy option to support healthy eating and reduce childhood obesity, most recently in their January 2016 report of the commission on ending childhood obesity.

Earlier this year, 11 leading health organizations came together to launch Canada’s Stop Marketing to Kids Coalition on February 24 2016. Our vision is clear: “We envision a Canada where children and parents make nutritious food choices in an environment free of influence from food and beverage marketing to children.”

Less than a week later on March 1 2016, the Senate Committee Standing Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology released their report, Obesity in Canada: A Whole-of-Society Approach for a Healthier Canada. The report makes 21 recommendations, including a recommendation to restrict food and beverage marketing to children.

So why now? Because the timing is right. Government and health organizations agree that our children deserve to be protected from food and beverage marketing. Together, we have an unprecedented opportunity to adopt robust, evidence-informed marketing to kid restrictions that will become the envy of the world and position Canada as a global leader in child health. Let’s make it happen. Add your voice and help us take action today.

By Elizabeth Holmes, Health Policy Analyst, Canadian Cancer Society, National Office