Health Canada proposes restrictions on advertising of food and beverages to children
By Food in Canada StaffRegulation Editor pick food marketing Health Canada
Health Canada intends to amend the Food and Drug Regulations to restrict advertising to children of foods that contribute to excess intakes of sodium, sugars and saturated fat.
It proposes a targeted approach to introducing restrictions, focusing on television and digital media first. This approach prioritizes media where children spend much of their time and where they are highly exposed to food advertising, including ads that air during a children’s program or on a children’s website.
To inform this work, Health Canada has been monitoring the nature and extent of advertising of food and beverages to children in Canada. The data demonstrates television continues to be a large source of exposure to food advertising. Most children report seeing ads for fast food, snacks, sugary drinks, desserts/treats, and sugary cereals at least once a week. Overall, it found the average child and teen viewed more than 1,700 food and beverage ads on television in 2019, which translates to an average of nearly five ads per day. Further, with the growth of digital media and the use of mobile devices, children are also significantly exposed to online ads.
Prior to releasing the policy update, extensive consultations and engagement were undertaken with industry and partners between 2016 and 2019. Following the consultations, Health Canada continued reviewing international initiatives and new evidence, as well as the results of its monitoring activities, to determine how to best support healthier eating and drinking habits for children in Canada.
The new update represents an important first step in restricting the advertising of certain foods and beverages to children to help protect them from the risks of an unhealthy diet. This policy will form the basis for draft regulations that will be published around winter 2024 for public consultation.
Health Canada is seeking your feedback on this policy update. Please contact Health Canada at firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions or comments by June 12, 2023.
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