Junk food ads aimed at kids could soon be restricted in Canada

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Health Canada is cracking down on junk food advertisements aimed at children by proposing to restrict television and digital media that promote unhealthy eating.

The updated proposal, published Tuesday, will form the basis for draft regulations to amend the Food and Drug Regulations, according to Health Canada, with the goal of restricting ads for children of foods that promote excess intakes of sodium, sugars and saturated fat.

This includes television and digital ads for candy, chips, chocolates and pop drinks that target children under the age of 13.

“Today’s 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, now and later in life,” a Health Canada spokesperson said in a statement.

The draft regulations will be published around winter 2024 for public consultation, Health Canada added.

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Click to play video: 'Canadian kids bombarded with junk food ads online'
Canadian kids bombarded with junk food ads online

Television continues to be a large source of exposure to food advertising.

For example, a 2019 report by Health Canada found on average, children and teens aged two to 17 saw nearly five ads per day, and fast food made up a vast majority of them.

Health Canada said the goal of the new policy is to reduce children’s exposure to influential food advertising while minimizing impacts on advertising to adults, Health Canada stated.

The health regulator also hopes limiting children’s exposure to unhealthy food will reduce their risk of developing overweight, obesity and diet-related chronic disease.

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