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Panel Calls for Leadership to Protect Children from Targeted Marketing

Policy conference highlights four key recommendations to combat childhood obesity epidemic

OTTAWA, March 5 – A panel of prominent, independently minded Canadians ranging from educators, Aboriginal, community and youth leaders, journalists, public policy researchers, academics and authors, today released a recommendation for a made in Canada plan to ensure that unhealthy food and beverages are not marketed to children. The panel based its decision on presentations by key Canadian and international experts on best available legal, scientific and social evidence on food marketing to children and its impact on obesity. The panel examined the evidence both for and against increased regulation on food marketing to Canadian children. “Access to our children is a privilege not a right, and as such should be subject to stringent regulation,” said Avi Lewis, conference panel moderator on the consensus statement. “We believe the status quo is unacceptable, and cannot continue. Complexity is not an excuse for inaction.”

The Panel is calling on the governments of Canada to create and enforce a regulatory regime that ends all marketing of unhealthy food and beverages to children.

The consensus statement was delivered as part of the Policy Consensus Forum on Obesity and the Impact of Marketing on Children hosted by the Chronic Disease Prevention Alliance of Canada (CDPAC). The conference, funded by the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC), the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) and the Government of British Columbia, was planned in response to the March 2007 release of the ‘Healthy Weights for Healthy Kids’ report by the Standing Committee on Health which stated that childhood obesity has become an ‘epidemic’ in Canada.

“There is significant debate as to whether or not marketing aimed at children requires additional restrictions and around the role that government and industry should be playing to restrict marketing,” said Paul Lapierre, CDPAC Steering Committee Chair. “Our goal is to protect the well-being of Canadian children and the statement announced today, along with the specific recommendations, will help us make an informed decision as to next steps around policy requirement and provide healthy options to children.”

The Chronic Disease Prevention Alliance of Canada (CDPAC) is a network of leading health and non-health organizations who share a common vision for an integrated system of research, surveillance, policies, and programs for maintaining health and preventing chronic disease in Canada. CDPAC consists of national, provincial and territorial organizations and alliances representing hundreds of groups across Canada. CDPAC’s mission is to lead and promote country-wide efforts toward systems changes that will reduce chronic diseases and improve the health of Canadians.

CDPAC’s role is to advocate for systems change and to facilitate and support information and knowledge exchange by connecting researchers, practitioners and policy makers for improved chronic disease prevention in Canada. CDPAC has hosted two very successful conferences titled Integrated Chronic Disease Prevention: Getting it Together (held in 2004) and Integrated Chronic Disease Prevention: Building it Together (held in 2006).

For further information: Aurélie Walsh, Blueprint Public Relations, (613) 237-7400 Ext. 23, cell (613) 797-4259, [email protected]