Municipal, provincial and federal “Marketing to Kids” (M2K) position statements (N=13) were identified in a non-comprehensive review. The positions, as well as commonalities and differences between them, were examined and analyzed. Below is a summary of areas of consensus and areas to be worked on.
Consensus between position statements
Type of approach
-Positions agree that a legislative approach is required.
-Positions view the Federal and Provincial Governments as the regulatory actors.
Definitions of marketing
-Across the position statements, there was a great amount of consensus on the definitions of ‘marketing’ and ‘advertising’.
-Marketing: broad range of activities (the promotion, price, placement and placement of a product).
-Advertising: a subset of marketing and includes only promotion.
-Half of the position statements specified marketing and half specified advertising. All agree that regulations must reflect diversity and intensity of modern marketing/advertising.
General rationale for restricting M2K
-Food and beverage marketing associated with obesity
-Children’s cognitive vulnerability.
-High Frequency of M2K in Canada and healthfulness of this marketing.
-High rates of childhood obesity (poor food intake, link with cancer, heart disease).
Areas to be worked on
Various key recommendations
1) No commercial marketing to children (Quebec Model):
-Association of Local Public Health Agencies, Center for Science in the Public Interest, Ontario Public Health Association, Ontario Society of Nutrition Professionals in Public Health, Toronto Board of Health
2) No commercial food or beverage marketing to children:
-Alberta Policy Coalition, Heart and Stroke Foundation (BC &
3) No unhealthy food or beverage marketing:
-Canadian Medical Association, Childhood Obesity
Foundation, Chronic Disease Prevention Alliance of
Canada, Hypertension Advisory Committee, Ontario
4) Improve self regulation:
-Dietitians of Canada
-Most (7/13) recommend for under 13 year old
-Some position statements did not specify an age.
*Note: Industry makes their advertising decisions based on two age groups: 2-11 & 12-17.
There is a lack of consensus rooted in differences in
-Understanding of the problem
-Viewing M2K as either an obesity or an ethics issue
What is the evidence to support restricting M2K? Childhood obesity rates in Quebec are lower, etc. but very difficult to say that a policy is linked directly. To have an impact on obesity you have to intervene on so many ways.
The Canadian government has been trying to define “unhealthy food” and have made no progress. For this definition we can look at what other countries have done e.g. The UK Nutrient Profile Model.
Before engaging the public in this issue, it would be good to first see discussion amongst NGOs, academics, clinicians about the pros and cons of each position. Ideally, this would be a diverse collaboration. Municipal governments also need to become more involved.
We can then engage the public on where the direction they see policy going. Parents are not aware of how much marketing is happening so getting them involved is key.
Thank You to our Speaker
Monique Potvin Kent, PhD, is a part-time and Adjunct Professor at the University of Ottawa in the Interdisciplinary School of Health Sciences. For the past 8 years, she has been conducting interdisciplinary obesity prevention research with a policy focus. Currently, she is examining children’s exposure to food and beverage marketing in Canada on television and on the Internet, the marketing techniques used to sell food and beverages to children, and the nutritional quality of this marketing.
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