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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