85% of Canadian parents want government to place limits on advertising unhealthy foods and beverages to children

Experts call for restrictions on marketing to children

OTTAWA, May 9, 2013 /CNW/ - More than 20 national and provincial health and scientific organizations have joined together in advance of Canada Health Day 2013 in support of a policy statement calling for a restriction on marketing of foods and beverages high in fats, added sugars or sodium targeted to children under the age of 13.

Developed by a national group of health organizations led by Dr. Norm Campbell, Professor of Medicine at the University of Calgary and Canadian Institutes of Health Research/Heart and Stroke Foundation Chair in Hypertension Prevention and Control, the statement advocates for policies to restrict the marketing to children of unhealthy food and beverages and calls on food companies to immediately stop such marketing to children.

"It is expected that the current generation of Canadian children may live shorter, less healthy lives as a result of unhealthy behaviours, including poor diets," said Bobbe Wood, President of the Heart and Stroke Foundation. "Implementing policies that restrict the marketing of unhealthy foods and beverages to children has been proven as a cost-effective way to reduce some chronic diseases, including heart disease and stroke."

In May 2010, the World Health Organization (WHO) released a set of recommendations on the marketing of food and beverages to children and called on governments worldwide to reduce the exposure of children to advertising and to reduce the use of powerful marketing techniques employed by the manufacturers of foods and beverages high in saturated fats, trans-fatty acids, free (added) sugars or sodium. Canada has yet to act upon these recommendations.

"Food companies in Canada, with the exception of Quebec, are not required by law to restrict unhealthy food and beverage marketing to children," stated Dr. Lynn McIntyre, Chair of the Canadian Public Health Association. "Studies show that up to 80% of food and beverage products currently marketed to children in some parts of Canada are for "non-core" foods. We can and must do better for our children."

"Diet is the leading risk for death, life years lost and disability in Canada," said Dr. Campbell, "and yet there are no effective regulations to protect Canadians, especially the most vulnerable."

A 2012 Environics survey indicated that the vast majority of Canadian parents (85%) support restrictions on the marketing of unhealthy foods and beverages to children.

"Canadians expect governments to be their partner in protecting children," said Dr. Anna Reid, President of the Canadian Medical Association. "Young children are easily influenced by commercial claims and have no way of knowing whether they are true. Meanwhile, children in Canada are subjected to ads for unhealthy foods up to six times an hour during children's television programs."

In 1989, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled that "advertisers should not be able to capitalize upon children's credulity" and "advertising directed at young children is per se manipulative". Unhealthy food and beverage advertising influences children's food preferences, purchase requests and consumption patterns and has been shown to be a probable cause of childhood overweight and obesity by the WHO.

"The industry's current voluntary and self-regulated system of restricting the marketing of foods and beverages is not sufficient to protect Canadian children," said Judi Farrell, Chief Executive Officer of Hypertension Canada. "Strong federal government leadership and nationwide action from all levels of government and other key stakeholders are needed. Regulation restricting unhealthy food and beverage advertising is internationally supported."

"We applaud Canadian governments for their 2011 commitments to address childhood obesity and chronic disease prevention in Canada," said Dr. Marie-Dominique Beaulieu, President of the CFPC. "We believe that the Policy Consensus Statement on Restricting Marketing of Unhealthy Food and Beverages to Children and Youth in Canada offers an integrated, pragmatic and timely response to their stated priorities of childhood obesity and chronic disease prevention in Canada."

About the Canadian Hypertension Advisory Committee
The Hypertension Advisory Committee represents a range of national health care, public health and not-for-profit organizations formed to systemically guide the development and implementation of policies and advocacy efforts to reduce Hypertension in Canada. The Advisory committee is lead by the CIHR HSFC Chair in Hypertension Prevention and Control.

About the Heart and Stroke Foundation
The Heart and Stroke Foundation, a volunteer-based health charity, leads in eliminating heart disease and stroke, reducing their impact through the advancement of research and its application, the promotion of healthy living and advocacy. Healthy lives free of heart disease and stroke. Together we will make it happen. Heartandstroke.ca

About the Canadian Public Health Association
Founded in 1910, the Canadian Public Health Association (CPHA) is the independent voice for public health in Canada with links to the international community. As the only Canadian non-governmental organization focused exclusively on public health, CPHA is uniquely positioned to advise decision-makers about public health system reform and to guide initiatives to help safeguard the personal and community health of Canadians and people around the world. cpha.ca

About the Canadian Medical Association
The Canadian Medical Association (CMA) is the national voice of Canadian physicians. Founded in 1867, the CMA is a voluntary professional organization representing more than 77,000 of Canada's physicians and comprising 12 provincial and territorial medical associations and 51 national medical organizations. CMA's mission is to serve and unite the physicians of Canada and be the national advocate, in partnership with the people of Canada, for the highest standards of health and health care. cma.ca

About the College of Family Physicians of Canada
The College of Family Physicians of Canada (CFPC) is the voice of family medicine in Canada. Representing over 28,000 members across the country, it is the professional organization responsible for establishing standards for the training, certification and lifelong education of family physicians and for advocating on behalf of family physicians and the specialty of family medicine. The CFPC accredits postgraduate family medicine training in Canada's 17 medical schools. cfpc.ca

About Hypertension Canada
Hypertension Canada is the country's authoritative voice on the management of high blood pressure. Committed to working closely with like-minded partner organizations to deliver positive benefits to the 7.3 million Canadians living with high blood pressure on a daily basis as well as to empower Canadians to make healthy lifestyles choices in order to prevent the occurrence of high blood pressure. Hypertension Canada is an influential collaboration of researchers, multi-disciplinary clinicians, and policy makers dedicated to advancing health through the prevention and control of high blood pressure and its complications. hypertension.ca

About Canada Health Day
Canada Health Day is celebrated in honour of the birthday of Florence Nightingale, an innovator and reformer in public health and has been celebrated on May 12 since 1921. Originally known as National Hospital Day, the name was changed in 1981 to Canada Health Day to reflect the importance of public health initiatives to the well-being of Canadians. The Canadian Healthcare Association and the Canadian Public Health Association are pleased to have sponsored Canada Health Day for more than 30 years.

SOURCE: Canadian Medical Association

For further information:

Canadian Hypertension Advisory Committee
Marta Cyperling
Telephone: 403.210.3835
E-mail: marta.cyperling@ucalgary.ca

Heart and Stroke Foundation
Leslie Wood
Telephone: 416.489.7111, ext 316
E-mail: lwood@hsf.on.ca

Canadian Public Health Association
Ian Culbert
Telephone: 613.725.3769, ext. 142
Mobile: 613.894.2957
E-mail: iculbert@cpha.ca

Canadian Medical Association
Lucie Boileau
Telephone: 613.731.8610
800.663.7336, ext. 1266
Mobile: 613.447.0866
E-mail: lucie.boileau@cma.ca

Hypertension Canada
Judi Farrell
Telephone: 905.943.9400
E-mail: judi.farrell@hypertension.ca

College of Family Physicians of Canada
Jayne Johnston
Telephone: 905.629.0900, ext 303
E-mail: jjohnston@cfpc.ca


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