The label “junk food” may be a tad misleading. While it might bring the image of fast food to mind, the concern of paediatricians encompasses a wider range of highly processed foods often found in grocery stores as well. These would all fall under a wider category of “unhealthy foods”.
Paediatricians across Canada are calling for quick passage of a new bill designed to impose limits on marketing of unhealthy foods and beverages to children.
Andrew Lynk M.D., MSC, FRCPC< is the Chair of the Department of Paediatrics at Dalhousie University, Chief of Paediatrics IWK Health Center in Halifax , and past president of the Canadian Paediatrics Society.
The doctor’s concern involves a bill called The Child Health Protection Act Its goal is to restrict marketing of certain foods and drinks to children aged 13 and under. These are mostly processed foods, and beverages high in sugar salt and saturated fat.
Dr Lynk says he and other paediatricians are seeing many more overweight and obese children than ever, and with diseases associated with these issues such as diabetes, and fatty liver disease.
He notes that diet-related disease kills more people in Canada than smoking.
Such advertising now occurs on traditional radio and TV, but also online, in videos, social media, and product placement in movies.
Various studies have shown that such marketing has an affect on children and youth food choices, diets, grocery shopping requests, and their overall health.
Canadian paediatricians are hoping that the Canadian Senate will overcome objections by some Senators so that the bill can be passed before the current session ends this month.
If that happens the whole, multi-year process will have to start over from the beginning, but Dr Lynk says, if that’s what happens, then paediatricians will renew their efforts to get the bill re-instated and passed. Dr Lynk says the health implications for Canada are too important to let the situation continue.
- CTV: N Kimse: Oct 30/18: Kids see thousands of unhealthy food ads on social media
- Ottawa Public Health: Jun 2017 survey: marketing unhealthy food to children
- Policy Options: Jul 20 2017: kids see millions of unhealthy food adverts
- Food Marketing Workgroup: Marketing unhealthy food to children must stop
- CBC: C Bonnymang: Jul 5/16: Study-junk food leads to fatter kids