“Parents should just turn off the TV.”
Yes, reducing television exposure can help. But parents can’t do it alone.
Kids are exposed to aggressive advertising on the products they use, in their favourite movies and video games, on the Internet and through their friends.
Government regulation is needed to protect children from excessive food and beverage marketing, so that parents and educators can have maximum influence on their children’s nutritional choices.
“But Canadian kids see American ads.”
In fact, Statistics Canada reports that 89% of children’s TV time is spent watching Canadian channels.
Another study that looked at 10-12 year olds’ television viewing in Ontario and Quebec showed that the most popular children’s programming in both English and French was viewed exclusively on Canadian television stations.
“You can’t regulate Internet ads.”
It is possible and easy for American companies to restrict Canadian kids from accessing American sites now.
In fact, Canada’s Competition Bureau already investigates online marketing practices and works with other governments to do it.
Legal precedents also suggest that trans-national corporations, like food companies that operate in Canada and the United States, would still be required to comply with a Canadian children’s ad ban, even online.
“Kids just need a healthy diet and exercise.”
While this is true, children also need to grow-up in an environment that encourages healthy food choices in the broadest way.
In order to be healthy, children need an environment that is free from the influence of food marketing that distorts their perceptions of what is healthy and influences their food choices and food requests.
Of course, it will take more than food advertising restrictions for kids to be healthy. Limiting ads is just one of the tools for changing children’s food environment and protecting children’s health.
“But advertisers have ethical standards.”
Marketing and advertising teams are often under intense pressure to sell products and outlast their competitors.
When one company becomes especially aggressive in advertising to kids, other companies often feel forced to follow suit.
By taking harmful food marketing off the table completely, it levels the playing field for all food companies.
“Canadian food companies have already made big changes”
While some companies have made changes in food and beverage marketing to children, many others have not, and some have intensified their marketing of food in beverages to children in the last few years.
Research in Canada shows that children’s exposure to food marketing has increased since the mid 2000’s and that the healthfulness of products advertised has not changed at all.
“Won’t a ban kill children’s TV?”
Hundreds of hours every week on children’s TV (CBC, TV Ontario, YTV and Teletoon) are already commercial-free.
Advertisers would still be able to target parents, instead of their kids.
“What about ads for healthy foods?”
Public health campaigns (i.e. educational campaigns) for healthy foods would still be allowed under our proposal however, the commercial marketing of food products would be restricted.
“But kids see ads intended for adults.”
Yes, children would continue to see some food marketing that is intended for adults; however, the amount of marketing they would see would be greatly reduced.
Research estimates that if all food marketing that targets children was restricted, decreases of approximately 28-35% of all food and beverage marketing on television would be eliminated. Other decreases would be seen in other media and in places where children gather, allowing parents to have a greater impact on children’s food intake.