Canada studying U.K. move to ban junk food advertising to kids

OTTAWA (NEWS 1130) — No more sugary cereal ads during morning cartoons or commercials for salty frozen dinners during the supper hour. That’s the new rule in the United Kingdom, which last week banned TV advertising for food products high in fat, salt, and sugar between the hours of 5:30 a.m. and 9 p.m.

Now Canada’s health regulator says it’s taking a careful look at what the U.K. is doing, to see if that’s something that could work in Canada.

In a statement, Health Canada says it is examining the new rules in the U.K. and reviewing its approach to this issue as it recommits to taking similar action.

It’s not the first time Health Canada has looked into these types of restrictions. A report from 2017 found overall support to potential changes on food marketing to children, but also noted pushback from the industry and stakeholders.

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An act to amend Canada’s Food and Drugs Act (prohibiting food and beverage marketing directed at children) was introduced in Parliament in 2016 and passed on to the Senate, where the legislation died in 2019 due to the election call.

Not everyone is a fan of the possible changes, including the director of Dalhousie University’s Agri-Food Analytics Lab.

Sylvain Charlebois says these types of restrictions don’t always work on their own and really need the support of those within the industry as well as the government.

“You just need political leadership and I’m just not sure it’s there yet. It might happen in the next election but I don’t expect any miracles,” he said.

Nearly a third of Canadian children are overweight or obese, according to Statistics Canada.

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