Advertising to Children - TEST

Advertising to Children

Children are considered a vulnerable audience for advertising due to its nature to directly or indirectly encourage the sale of a product through promotion. Currently, Quebec and Mexico are the only jurisdictions in North America with mandatory restrictions on food advertising to children. On April 25, 2023, Health Canada published a policy update on restricting the advertising of food and beverages to children and sought stakeholder feedback between April 25, 2023, and June 19, 2023. The main goal of these restrictions is to decrease the risk of children developing diet-related chronic diseases such as high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease or obesity.

What is the extent of the restrictions?

The restrictions include advertising on websites, social media, messaging services, mobile apps, television, online games, virtual reality programs, and video and audio streaming services. Health Canada proposed that these platforms are where children spend a lot of time and are susceptible to the influence of advertising.

Health Canada has proposed restrictions on certain types of food that are often advertised to this targeted group. Foods with added sodium, free sugars, or fat that surpass the 'low in' nutrient content claim thresholds. These nutrient thresholds are equivalent to:

  • 6% of the daily value for sodium
  • 5% of the daily value for sugars
  • 10% of the daily value for saturated fat

The restrictions also include candy, snacks, chocolate, desserts, baked goods, restaurant food, sweetened dairy products, sugar-sweetened beverages and sweetened breakfast cereals. The restrictions don't include any food recommended in Canada's food guide as an important part of healthy eating.

photo of children playing on tablet

Health Canada has aligned the policy with Canada’s Healthy Eating Strategy and New Food Guide released in January 2019. In terms of compliance and enforcement, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) is responsible for the enforcing provisions of the Food and Drugs Act (FDA), including the proposed restrictions on advertising of certain foods to children.

These proposed restrictions will reduce exposure to food advertising for children under 13 and reduce the risk of children having diet-related chronic disease, overweight or obesity later in life.

On June 28, 2023, Ad Standards also released a Code for the Responsible Advertising of Food and Beverage Products to Children. Ad Standards worked in collaboration with some national associations, to create conditions for responsible advertising to children. The code intended to set advertising standards to prevent advertising of food and drinks to children under the age of 13, except if certain nutrition thresholds are met. The nutrition thresholds specified criteria for prepackaged food and beverages, breakfast cereals, select products, restaurant and food service meals. Health Canada developed the restrictions focused primarily on children in addition to the existing advertising code.

CHFA is committed to promoting the well-being of children and supporting a healthy food environment. A regulatory framework that provides clear guidelines across the entire spectrum of childhood will be important for industry. We support further clarification on how parental guidance ratings will be applied across all forms of media, including video games, not just limited to television. Given the evolving and diverse nature of digital platforms, it is crucial to establish a clear and well-defined framework that guides industry and content creators attempting to adhere to regulations.

Here’s what we have done so far to voice the industry concerns:

  • We have shared feedback on restricting food advertising primarily directed at children to Health Canada.
  • We communicate opportunities to share feedback with our members and remain engaged on upcoming opportunities for consultations impacting industry.

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