Health Canada is seeking your feedback on their policy update on restricting food advertising primarily directed at children before June 12, 2023. The policy update was published on April 25, 2023. For food makers, it’s time to start thinking about whether their ongoing and upcoming advertising campaigns meet the proposed regulations.
Regulators at Health Canada want to hear from everyone including the public, health professionals, researchers, academics, organizations, governments, industry stakeholders, First Nations and other interested parties. The key questions for feedback include:
- Defining advertising that is primarily directed at children
- Targeting restrictions to advertising on television and digital media
- Restricting advertisements for foods that contribute to excess intakes of sodium, sugars or saturated fat
We are joining the webinar discussion with Health Canada on May 11, 2023 and complied the following background information for your business and advertising insights. Let us know if you have any questions. Here is more information on how you can participate and where you can register for the English Webinar
Purpose of Health Canada’s Policy Update
Health Canada intends to amend the Food and Drug Regulations to restrict advertising primarily directed at children for foods and beverages that contribute to excess intakes of sodium, sugars and saturated fat.
Health Canada’s latest scientific evidence review found convincing relationships between the increased intakes of these nutrients of public health concern and health issues such as increased blood pressure (sodium), overweight, obesity, type 2 diabetes (sugars and saturated fat), dental decay (sugars) and cardiovascular disease (saturated fat).
Children see and hear food advertising throughout their day, across a range of media platforms (such as television, social media and gaming) and settings (such as retail food stores, theaters, and recreation centers). The focus of this policy proposal is about exposure to food advertising on television and digital media however, Health Canada acknowledges that Canadian children are also exposed to food advertising in other types of media, settings, and techniques such as brand advertising, food packaging and labelling and sports sponsorships. Health Canada will continue to monitor food advertising in these areas to inform any future restrictions.
Details of the policy update are available at this link: Policy update on restricting food advertising primarily directed at children: Overview
Position Statements from Associations
Many organizations and associations have released policy or position statements on the issue of restricting food advertising directed at children. The position papers from associations provide valuable insights and references. Here are some examples:
Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada published: “Protecting our Children: Restricting Food and Beverage Marketing to Kids.” in December 2021.
Stop Marketing to Kids Coalition advocates for restricting food and beverage marketing to kids. They provide an Inventory of Position Statements.
Advertising Standards Canada has made attempts to inform the industry and self regulate by creating a “Food and Beverage Advertising Code” in August 2022. However, the Code is not a replacement for regulation. The Code is aimed at prepackaged products as well as restaurant and food service meals. The criteria are generally focused on saturated fat, sodium and sugar content. More information is available at this link: Food and Beverage Advertising Code
Stay Informed with Us!
In our work as health professionals and consulting dietitians, we examine current credible evidence and translate the science into meaningful expert advice for Canadians. Connect with us to stay informed and shape your nutrition strategy. If you have questions about nutrition related to food and beverage marketing please reach out to us! (firstname.lastname@example.org )
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Written by Lucia Weiler, BSc, RD, PHEc – Award-winning dietitian and Co-Founder, n4nn