Federal Political Party Survey on Nutrition Policies

The Stop Marketing to Kids Coalition distributed an online survey to the four main national political parties in September to gather their views on nutrition policies. This is a non-partisan survey of the parties’ positions.
Click below to see the parties’ responses.

Young Canadians! Take action against #Marketing2Kids

Fellow Young Canadians,

Did you know? Junk food and drink brands have been targeting us since we were little—even before we knew what advertising was. They know if they hook us on their brands while we’re young that we could become lifelong customers. What’s worse is that over 90% of foods marketed to us are high in salt, sugar or fat.

The food and beverage industry invests billions into marketing research and strategies to manipulate our food preferences. This must stop.

Right now Canada’s federal government is debating Bill S-228—a pivotal bill that would prevent food industry from marketing unhealthy foods and drinks to children 12 and under. Why is this even a thing, right? It is critical that this bill is passed.

As young Canadians, we can help support Bill S-228. But we need your help.

The Young Canadians Against Marketing to Kids created an advocacy toolkit to help you take action against marketing to kids in your school, community and on social media. You will find many resources you can use to show our government that Bill S-228 is extremely important to young Canadians.

Why is Bill S-228 important?

Growing up in Canada, we should be encouraged to make healthy food choices—not this constant exposure to slick ads that are designed to make us crave junk food. Did you know that 90% of foods marketed to us are unhealthy—high in salt, sugar or fat—and have been linked to negative health outcomes? It is time to demand action and protect young Canadians against these multi-billion dollar corporations and their calculated tactics.

Bill S-228 will introduce restrictions on the marketing of unhealthy food and drinks to young people (under 13). Such restrictions are a critical part of Canada’s Healthy Eating Strategy and would help to create a healthier Canada for future generations.

It’s time for us to speak up.

Use our Advocacy Toolkit to show your support for Bill S-228 and take action against marketing to young Canadians!
Request an advocacy toolkit

Share on Social Media
You can start by using #Marketing2Kids on all social media platforms and follow @YouthAgainstM2K on Twitter! Let your community know why #Marketing2Kids and/or #BillS228 matters to you. Consider tweeting your MP with examples of junk food marketing in your community.

Thank you for taking action against the marketing of unhealthy food and beverages to kids! The laws and parameters we advocate for today will shape our future and the future of generations to come. It’s time to show Canada this is an issue young Canadians care about. Let’s make 2018 the year to remember. A year that we worked together to accomplish this milestone in health policy.


Clarissa Smith
Young Canadians Against Marketing to Kids


Young Canadians Against Marketing to Kids is group of young Canadians aiming to improve the wellbeing of kids and youth through advocacy and policy change. We hope to inspire other young people to join the movement against food and beverage marketing to kids.

What would you do with an extra 5-10 hours a week?

Join us and turn off your screens for Screen-Free Week April 30 – May 6

The Stop Marketing to Kids Coalition is proud to endorse 2018 Screen-Free Week—a coordinated effort to encourage millions around the world to turn off televisions, smartphones, tablets, and gaming consoles for seven days and connect more deeply with the world around them. Screen-Free Week is a chance for children to read, play, think, create, be more physically active and to spend more time with friends and family.

On average, preschool children spend over four and a half hours a day consuming screen media, while older children spend over seven hours a day. Excessive screen time is linked to a number of problems for children, including childhood obesity, poor school performance and problems with attention span.

While reducing screen time can help limit children’s exposure to slick ads for unhealthy food and beverages—it is not enough. Canadian children see over 25 million food and beverage ads a year on their favourite websites. Robust federal restrictions are essential to protect all children from the health impacts of pervasive unhealthy food and beverage marketing where they live, learn and play.

The Stop Marketing to Kids Coalition endorses Screen-Free Week as a great initiative that challenges us to dedicate time to activities beyond our screens, that enrich health and wellbeing—through relationships, literacy, learning and play.

Join us April 30 – May 6 for Screen-Free Week! Visit screenfree.org to learn more.

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


Screen-Free Week is coordinated by the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood, a national advocacy organization devoted to reducing the impact of commercialism on children. Since Screen-Free Week’s founding in 1994, it has been celebrated by millions of children and their families worldwide. For more information, visit www.screenfree.org

Our Opportunity to Revolutionize Nutrition Labelling in Canada

Product packaging is a powerful form of marketing. Some food companies advertise their products as healthy, when in fact, they are not. Many Canadians find nutrition labels difficult to understand, and they want fast information to help make healthy food choices when they are shopping. Food companies market their products as ‘healthy’ by highlighting one or more positive attributes on a product package, such as ‘high in fibre’, or “fat-free”. However the same product may also be high in sugar, sodium, and/or saturated fat.

To further complicate things, in recent years, numerous front-of-pack “nutrition symbols” or food rating systems have also surfaced. This makes it even more confusing for parents and children.  

Thankfully, Health Canada is considering new measures to strengthen food package labelling and claims. In particular, Health Canada is proposing to require food companies to show highly-visible, simple, intuitive warning labels for foods high in sugar, saturated fat, and sodium.

The Stop Marketing to Kids Coalition (representing twelve non-government organizations) urges you to support the introduction of robust Front-of-Package (FoP) nutrition labelling, as a part of Canada’s Healthy Eating Strategy. This comprehensive and integrated public health strategy has the potential to significantly improve the nutritional health of Canadians.

“It could be another 30 years before we get this kind of opportunity again,” says Heart & Stroke’s Director of Health Policy and Advocacy, Manuel Arango. It’s time to act now and give kids a better chance at reaching their full potential.

Sign a letter urging the federal government to introduce robust front-of-pack nutrition labelling.

By Miranda McLellan-Granger, National Coordinator for the Stop Marketing to Kids Coalition 

Call to Action! Health Canada’s M2K Consultation

The deadline for Health Canada’s online consultation on Restricting Marketing to Children is fast approaching: Monday, August 14, 2017. We urge you to participate in this exceptional opportunity.

You have the option to participate as an individual or on behalf of your organization, as the Consultation process allows for both. This is a critical chance, for all Canadians who care about children’s health – to help shape Canada’s new landmark legislation and accompanying regulations to restrict unhealthy food and beverage marketing to children.

The development of new laws governing food and beverage marketing to children is part of the federal Healthy Eating Strategy, which also involves enhancing front-of-pack nutrition labels and modernizing Canada’s Food Guide. This is an exciting and unprecedented time for nutrition policy in Canada!

The Stop Marketing to Kids Coalition welcomes and embraces the announcement that Health Canada is consulting the public on important issues around children’s health and nutrition. Please, help us create the strongest and most comprehensive policies possible to protect children and public health from the harmful effects of unhealthy food and beverage marketing. Access Health Canada’s M2K consultation here: http://healthyeatingconsultations.ca/marketing-to-kids

This is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to create lasting change that will affect Canadians’ health for years to come. Thank you for adding your voice!


Stop Marketing to Kids Coalition – Who We Are
Stop Marketing to Kids Coalition – Our Policy Recommendations
Stop Marketing to Kids Coalition – Rationale for the Difference between the Ottawa Principles and the amended Senate Bill (S-228)
Stop Marketing to Kids – Video Library
Stop Marketing to Kids Coalition – Coalition in the News

By Miranda McLellan-Granger, National Coordinator for the Stop Marketing to Kids Coalition 

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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: CanadaVigilance@hc-sc.gc.ca

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Stop Marketing to Kids Infographic

Action on restricting marketing to kids happening now

All levels of government can protect children from exposure to food and beverage marketing – and we already have examples of innovative provinces and municipalities taking action!

Recognizing that a national response was required to the steady increase in childhood obesity, the Ministers of Health and Health Promotion/Healthy Living endorsed Curbing Childhood Obesity – A Federal, Provincial and Territorial Framework for Action to Promote Healthy Weights (2010). One of the policy areas identified was to decrease the marketing of foods and beverages high in fat, sugar and/or sodium to children and progress is reported in a biennial e-report.

On the provincial front, Quebec was an early leader globally in protecting children from advertising through their Consumer Protection Act.  With legislation being introduced in the early 1980s, companies were no longer allowed to advertise to children under age 13.

Also noteworthy, in Ontario, the Healthy Kids Panel report (2012) made a recommendation to change the food environment including banning the marketing of high-calorie, low-nutrient foods, beverages and snacks to children under age 12. Recently, this recommendation was endorsed by over 25 organisations that collaborated on the Ontario Food and Nutrition Strategy.

At the municipal level, the Toronto Board of Health has shown committed action for over 30 years, advocating for comprehensive restrictions on commercial marketing targeted at children. It is no surprise with this commitment that Toronto Public Health is a supporting member of the Stop Marketing to Kids Coalition. Last year, Toronto Board of Health used their voice to support the federal ban on marketing to kids and continues to raise awareness about the importance of restricting marketing to kids.

Other municipalities are also taking action to restrict marketing to kids by endorsing the Ottawa Principles or exploring municipal policy options including the Middlesex-London and Ottawa public health boards.

There is still more to be done at all levels of government in Canada to protect children from marketing of food and beverages, but action is taking place. Find out more about how individuals, schools, communities and governments can get involved in the Heart and Stroke Report on the Health of Canadians.

By Elizabeth Holmes, Health Policy Analyst, Canadian Cancer Society

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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 government 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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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 the Hill.

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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