Act banning food advertising to children 'extremely important,' says prof

A professor at UPEI says a Senate bill looking to ban food and beverage marketing directed at children may be an essential piece of legislation in reducing childhood obesity and disease.

'We know that children have changed the way they eat, just getting them to move is not enough'

A Senate bill introduced by Sen. Nancy Greene Raine in 2016 has made its way into the House of Commons. (Carlos Osorio/Associated Press)

A professor at UPEI says a Senate bill looking to ban food and beverage marketing directed at children may be an essential piece of legislation in reducing childhood obesity and disease.

Bill S-228, called the Child Health Protection Act, was introduced by Conservative Sen. Nancy Greene Raine and has recently been floored for debate in the House of Commons.

Its gone from beyond TV, to the Internet and digital media, and that's something that has gone unaddressed.— Jennifer Taylor

It's expected to be passed this year and has received multi-party support.

Jennifer Taylor, a food and nutrition professor at UPEI, said the bill is "extremely important" in banning junk food ads and combating chronic disease and childhood obesity.

Unhealthy advertisements aimed at children have been "a problem for years," she said. 

"Its gone from beyond TV, to the Internet and digital media, and that's something that has gone unaddressed."

'Children have changed the way they eat'

Taylor has pushed for healthy lunch programs for schools in the past and has worked closely with the province as director of the Healthy Eating Alliance — a non-profit group that promoted healthy eating at Island schools and distributed money from the province for breakfast and snack programs.

The alliance disbanded due to a lack of funding in March, 2016.

In Taylor's experience, advertising is one part of a multifaceted problem regarding childhood obesity in Canada — another problem being companies marketing their food to go along with sports and physical activity.

Unhealthy advertising has posed 'a problem for years' says Jennifer Taylor. (CBC)

"Physical activity is a piece, but the food and beverage industry have just been milking that saying 'oh kids just need to move' … it's not true," she said.

"We know that children have changed the way they eat, just getting them to move is not enough."

Much of the bill's finer details have yet to be hammered out in the House of Commons. Should the bill pass this year it would take until 2020 to become law.