Bill S-228 is an Act which seeks to amend the Food and Drugs Act to prohibit unhealthy food and beverage marketing directed at children under 17 years of age. The prohibition would include advertising, packaging, and all other forms of promotion aimed at children. Thus far, the Bill has been unanimously passed in the Senate during its Third Reading and went through the First Reading in the House of Commons on October 6, 2017.
The Bill comes in response to the 2016 study on the increasing incidence of obesity in Canada. During the study, the Standing Senate Committee heard experts testify that the number of obese children in Canada has tripled since 1980 and Canada now ranks sixth among industrialized nations in percentage of obese children. Furthermore, the Preamble of the Bill mentions that overweight and obese children are, “at increased risk for premature onset of chronic conditions and illnesses such as high cholesterol, high blood pressure, sleep apnea, joint problems, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, stroke and some cancers.”
The World Health Organization’s commission on ending childhood obesity found that marketing of unhealthy foods and beverages negatively impacts childhood obesity; it also recommends that any attempt to address the issue should include reduced exposure of children to marketing. In consideration of the health risks associated with obesity, the author of the Bill claimed that the rapidly increasing rate of childhood obesity has become a matter of national concern in Canada.
Olympic gold medalist Senator Nancy Greene Raine has also played a role in supporting Bill S-228. Sen. Greene authored an article stating that Canadian children need to be protected from fettered and pervasive marketing which is damaging to their health. In support, Sen. Greene cited obesity rates that demonstrate, “today, almost one in three Canadian children — and, more concerning, 62.5% of young Indigenous children — are overweight or obese.”
Sen. Greene highlighted the importance of aiding Canadian parents in resisting the marketing of unhealthy foods aimed at their children because they are especially vulnerable to marketing and may suffer the subsequent impacts of poor health. According to Sen. Greene, “parents should be the last line of defence—not the only line of defence—against the pressures of omnipresent marketing that follows their kids everywhere.”
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This blog post was written by a CCLA-PBSC RightsWatch student. Views expressed do not necessarily reflect the views of the CCLA or PBSC.