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Ban on junk food ads seen as way to combat childhood obesity

By Sarah Armour

A ban on junk food advertisements aimed at kids under the age of 12 is recommended in a new report to fight childhood obesity.

No time to wait: The Healthy Kids Strategy was introduced by Ontario’s Healthy Kids Panel [1], to the Minister of Health and Long-Term Care. Its focus is to aid in the goal of reducing childhood obesity by 20 per cent over the next five years.

The plan is to ban junk food and fast-food ads that are aimed at kids under the age of 12 and stop the promotion and display of junk food at the checkout.

Allison Phillips, a registered dietician at the Hastings and Prince Edward Health Unit, said banning advertisements of junk food is just one small part of the plan, but one that could potentially make a big change.

“The nutrition environment that kids live in today is certainly different than in years past. The advertising of unhealthy food choices is a large part of the problem, it’s not the only problem in our culture today around food, but it certainly is one component,” said Phillips.

The panel had also considered the Ontario Medical Association’s call for a junk food tax, however, decided it is not necessary for now.

“One of the reasons from a health perspective is it could further disadvantage an already disadvantaged sublet of the popularity, of the lower income group could be hurt by that tax more than the general public. There were pros and cons to it, but in the end it wasn’t largely supported by the public,” said Phillips.

The Ontario healthy kid’s panel report says in Ontario 27.5 % of kids ages 2 to 17 are overweight or obese, a 75% increase over the last 30 years.

If the trend continues, it’s estimated that by 2040, 70% of today’s kids will become overweight adults.

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