printable article

Originally published August 28 2008

Canadian Government Pressured to Ban Junk Food Ads

by David Gutierrez, staff writer

(NaturalNews) The Toronto board of health has urged the Canadian government to place a total ban on the advertising of junk foods to children.

Currently, advertising to children is regulated by self-imposed rules under which 16 food companies have agreed either not to market to children under the age of 12, or to market only their healthier products. But according to Toronto Chief Medical Officer of Health David McKeown, this method of regulation is not effective.

"Most of the food and beverages advertised heavily to children are poor in nutrients and high in calories," McKeown said. "The rules don't mean that the food being advertised is, in fact ... the basis for a healthy diet for a child. It just means that it is somewhat less harmful than their less healthy choices."

According to a report published by the health committee of the Canadian parliament, 26 percent of Canadian children between the ages of 2 and 17 are obese or overweight.

In a report prepared for the board of health, McKeown said that both healthy and unhealthy eating habits are developed early in life. While this makes it important to expose children to healthy foods while they are young, children see 27 times as many television commercials advertising sugary cereals as they see public health announcements.

The board of health urged federal and provincial governments to follow the lead of the United Kingdom in placing a complete ban on junk food ads to children.

In the United States, Representative Edward Markey, chair of the House Subcommittee on Telecommunications and the Internet, has suggested that the Federal Communications Commission might need to impose such a ban. In response, more than 12 companies have adopted voluntary rules to limit their advertising to children under the age of 12. But the failure of some major companies to sign on, such as Nestle and Dannon, has led to speculation that such a ban might still be introduced.

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