Obesity panel urges Ontario to ban junk food marketing aimed at kids
Published Monday, March 4, 2013 10:19AM EST
Last Updated Monday, March 4, 2013 2:25PM EST
A provincial panel says the keys to reducing childhood obesity in Ontario lie in pre-natal care and breastfeeding, increasing healthy food options in schools and building communities that encourage healthy eating habits and active living.
The Healthy Kids Panel presented its findings Monday in Toronto after spending nine months consulting with parents, children, experts and associations. The panel was tasked with coming up with a roadmap to reduce childhood obesity by 20 per cent over the next five years.
"We decided parents love their kids and want them to be healthy, and they just need some supports to do that," said Kelly Murumets, co-chair of the panel and president and CEO of ParticipACTION.
The report is titled "No Time to Wait: The Healthy Kids Strategy."
Among its recommendations, the report says the province must "increase the availability of healthy choices" in its schools and expand nutrition programs available to students.
The report also recommends the province ban retailers from targeting advertising for certain foods at children 12 years of age and younger.
Displays of high-calorie, low nutrient foods set up near store checkouts -- designed to trigger so-called 'impulse buys' -- should also be banned, beginning with sugary drinks, the report says.
And restaurants, including fast-food outlets, should be required to list calories for each item on their menu.
The report also recommends incentives for food growers to participate in community-based food distribution programs.
Health Minister Deb Matthews said she will co-chair a government committee to look at the report saying "we are committed to seriously considering every one of these recommendations."
Matthews added: "This is not a nice-to-do, this is a must-do."
The group did not call for a so-called 'fat-tax' on unhealthy foods, which some had expected would be included in the report's recommendations. When asked why not, panel co-chair Alex Munter said the group "decided it's not necessary yet to go there."