Children's Advertising - According to the WHO, Canada should look to Quebec's
law for inspiration

MONTREAL, Jan. 8 /CNW Telbec/ - The Quebec Coalition on Weight Related Problems (Weight Coalition) is very pleased of a recent report released by the World Health Organization (WHO) that applauds Quebec's legal stance in regard to advertising aimed at children and encourages Canada and other provinces to follow suit.

Advertising aimed at children was the WHO's priority in 2008-09. In its global strategy for fighting chronic diseases, the WHO invites its Member States to adopt a law similar to the one in place here in Quebec to regulate the marketing of food products that are high in fat, salt, and sugar. The twelve recommendations made by the Secretariat of the WHO's executive board are focused on reducing the exposure and impact of junk food marketing on children. They aim to help Member States develop new policies or reinforce existing ones. "The most efficient way to limit the exposure of children to advertising of unhealthy food products is using a law like the Consumer Protection Act in the rest of Canada," explains Suzie Pellerin, Director of the Weight Coalition.

The WHO also calls for the food industry to behave responsibly when bringing junk food to market, something that is done very aggressively currently and which targets children specifically, according to a systematic review by the WHO. The Chair of the Childhood Obesity Foundation, Dr Tom Warshawski states that: "The evidence is quite clear that children under the age of 8 are completely defenceless against the persuasive effects of advertising. Corporations understand this and spend tens of millions of dollars marketing junk food and junk drinks to children to foster brand loyalty and increase the consumption of branded products."

"Many Canadian groups strongly support the WHO report because the growing obesity rate amongst children can be attributed in part to the many hours spent watching TV and being exposed to advertising of unhealthy food products" says Malek Batal, Director of the Nutrition Department of the Ottawa University. "The report comes at an opportune time as Canada is studying the question of food marketing to children", says Suzie Pellerin.

"The WHO even recommends increasing surveillance of advertisements, something which is very difficult currently. The Office de la protection du consommateur in Quebec simply does not have the resources to do so," adds the Director of the Weight Coalition.

After examining the evidence, the WHO concluded that the majority of marketing aimed at children focuses on food products that are high in fat, salt or sugar. Scientists who were consulted by the WHO also argued that, above and beyond television advertising which influences preferences and encourages the consumption of unhealthy foods, we must also look at other forms of marketing which aim to build relationships between children and a brand. They cited a few techniques used such as sponsorship, product placement, sales promotion, cross-promotions using celebrities, brand mascots or characters popular with children, web sites, packaging, point-of-purchase displays, e-mails and text messages, philanthropic activities tied to branding opportunities, and communication through "viral marketing" and by word-of-mouth.

The WHO also proposes a ban on advertising in areas frequented by children. "Could the brand names of the big fast-food chains or soft drinks finally disappear from places like schools, parks, daycares, clinics, sports and cultural centers?" asks Suzie Pellerin.

Finally, the report suggests that a country's domestic laws should cover cross border advertising aimed at children. Therefore, an ad targeting children that was made in the U.S., but broadcast in Quebec, should potentially be considered in the Consumer Protection Act.

To access the full report of the World Health Organization:

About the Quebec Coalition on Weight-Related Problems

Created in 2006 and sponsored by the Association pour la santé publique du Québec since 2008, the Quebec Coalition on Weight-Related Problems is working toward the adoption of specific public policies in regard to weight related issues. It acts within three strategic areas (agri-food industry, sociocultural and built environment) to foster the development of environments that enable healthy choices and prevent weight related issues. Fore more details:

About the Childhood Obesity Foundation

Founded in 2004, the mission of the Childhood Obesity Foundation is to identify, evaluate and promote best practices in healthy nutrition and physical activity to reduce the prevalence of childhood obesity. The vision of the Childhood Obesity Foundation is children and youth of Canada free of chronic diseases that ensue from obesity.

SOURCE Quebec Coalition on Weight-Related Problems

For further information: For further information: Suzie Pellerin, Coalition Director, Cell.: (514) 235-3766; Dr Tom Warshawski, Chair of the Childhood Obesity Foundation, Cell.: (250) 212-3039; Malek Batal, Director of the Nutrition Department of the Ottawa University, Cell.: (613) 276-5143; Source: Amélie Desrosiers, Communications Officer, Quebec Coalition on Weight-Related Problems, (514) 598-8058, ext. 233, Cell.: (514) 475-7431,

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Quebec Coalition on Weight-Related Problems

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