The Heart & Stroke Foundation is urging the government to pass its proposed law which would ban the advertising of foods high in fat, salt and sugar to children. The consumption of these foods is links with chronic diseases and premature death.
“Over the past 30 years we have a crisis in Canada, and in the world actually, of diet-related obesity which starts in childhood,” says Yves Savoie, CEO of the Heart & Stroke Foundation of Canada.
He says bad habits acquired at an early age have a great impact on cardiovascular disease, cancer, diabetes and other chronic diseases. “And we see those impacts in terms of quality of life. But we also see it in terms of mortality, premature death.”
Quebec law is effective, says Savoie
Savoie is convinced that a law prohibiting the advertising to children under 13 of foods high in fat, salt and sugar would reduce obesity levels. He points to the province of Quebec, where all advertising to young children is banned. Francophone children who watch local television are least at risk of being overweight or obese compared to children in the rest of the country. The risk is higher among English-speaking children in Quebec who watch more programming from the United States which is not subject to the advertising ban.
Savoie says 90 per cent of the advertising aimed at children involves foods that are high in salt, fat and sugar and it has a huge impact on children who then demand their parents buy these foods.
The commercial food industry opposes the law
The legislation banning the food ads to children is stalled in the Senate and health advocates are worried that if it is not passed soon, it will be dropped because of the coming government recess and an election slated for October 2019.
Savoie says he hopes legislators will not cave in to the enormous opposition to the law posed by the commercial food industry. He thinks the law would not harm farmers and would only oblige the food industry to come up with healthier choices.
The government of Canada says nearly 1 in 3 Canadian children are overweight or obese.
Hear Yves Savoie explain why he believes it is important to pass legislation that would ban the advertising to children of foods high in fat, salt and sugar.Listen