Food promotion: Local, provincial and territorial regulation of food promotion in children’s settings

Learn how local, provincial and territorial governments can increase healthy eating by regulating food promotion in children’s settings

Inside this healthy eating policy pack

Promotion to children in children’s settings

Issue

Food promotion

Action

Promotion to children in children’s settings 1

  • Mandatory regulation of food marketing in schools, preschools 1,2
  • Policies restrict promotion of unhealthy foods in other settings where children gather (e.g., sport and cultural events) 1,2

Degree of policy adoption*

Provinces and territories: LOW
31 Canadian municipalities:** LOW

Current action(s) in Canada

Provinces and territories

A long-time early adopter of this action is Quebec. Quebec’s Consumer Protection Act prohibits all advertising to children under 13 (including unhealthy foods and drinks) including in schools and other child-directed settings.

31 Canadian municipalities**

None of the 31 municipalities in the Directory have implemented policies related to marketing to children.

Opportunities for action

Federal Bill S-228, the Child Health Protection Act,3 if enacted, will restrict marketing of unhealthy foods and beverages to children under the age of 13 in child-directed settings (e.g., daycares, schools, children’s clubs, children’s concerts/festivals, etc). In addition, under this proposed Act, children’s sport sponsorship will be exempted, allowing sponsorship of sports teams, sporting events, sporting leagues/associations and individual child athletes. Provincial/territorial and municipal policies may be enacted to include restrictions on sponsorship/marketing and advertising in these exempted settings.

In addition, the absence of federal or provincial/territorial action, levers exist at the municipal level to restrict or ban some types of marketing to children, such as via municipally owned properties (parks, recreation centres, libraries, etc.), or through signage and public transit advertising bylaws.

Municipalities could also enact new bylaws requiring nutrition standards for foods served at restaurants that offer toys/giveaways aimed at children, which does exist in San Francisco, California.4

* Levels of adoption:  LOW = very few jurisdictions have adopted evidence-informed policy action; MEDIUM = some, but not all jurisdictions have adopted evidence-informed policy action; HIGH = most jurisdictions have adopted evidence-informed policy action.

** Prevention Policies Directory captures information for 31 Canadian municipalities (18 largest municipalities in Canada, and at least 1-2 largest municipalities in all other provinces/territories).


References

1 Vanderlee L, Goorang S, Karbasy K, Schermel A, L’Abbe M. Creating healthier food environments in Canada: Current policies and priority actions – Summary report. Toronto; University of Toronto, 2017.

2 World Cancer Research Fund International. NOURISHING policy framework. Retrieved from: https://www.wcrf.org/int/policy/nourishing/our-policy-framework-promote-healthy-diets-reduce-obesity

3 Government of Canada. (2018). Restricting marketing of unhealthy foods and beverages to children: An update on proposed regulations. Retrieved from: https://www.canada.ca/en/health-canada/programs/consultation-restricting-unhealthy-food-and-beverage-marketing-to-children/update-proposed-regulations.html

4 ChangeLab Solutions. (2014). Model ordinance for toy giveaways at restaurants. Retrieved from: http://changelabsolutions.org/publications/healthier-toy-giveaway-meals