The UK government has announced a ban on the advertising of foods high in fat, sugar or salt (HFSS) being shown on TV before 9pm and online. This is an important step forward in protecting children from the effects of junk food marketing. The evidence that unhealthy food marketing influences children’s food choices is strong, yet governments worldwide have been hesitant to step in and protect children.
In Canada, junk food marketing is largely self-regulated by the food industry who, like in Australia, decide their own rules. And, like Australia, that self-regulation doesn't work.
Research found food marketing on TV increased since the introduction of the voluntary codes. The use of spokes-characters such as Tony the Tiger and popular licensed characters like Dora the Explorer to help sell food products also increased.
Interestingly, Quebec introduced legislation over 30 years ago to protect children from targeted food and drink advertising and has one of the highest fruit and vegetable intake rates and lowest childhood obesity rates in Canada.
The Stop Marketing to Kids Coalition was formed in 2014 and comprises 12 non-government organisations that are calling for restrictions on all food and drink marketing to Canadian children aged 16 and younger. Their vision is to have an environment that enables children and parents to consider nutritious food options free from the influence of junk food marketing to children. Read more about their campaign here.