Evaluating the Canadian Packaged Food Supply Using Health Canada's Proposed Nutrient Criteria for Restricting Food and Beverage Marketing to Children.Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2020 02 15; 17(4)IJ
Federally mandated restrictions on food and beverage marketing to kids (M2K) have been re-introduced as a national public health priority in Canada by the newly elected government, following the failure to implement a similar policy first proposed in 2016. This study examined the extent to which Canadian packaged foods, including products already displaying M2K on the packaging, would be permitted to be marketed, based on the nutrient criteria for marketing restrictions defined by Health Canada (in December 2018) as part of the previous policy proposal. Products from the University of Toronto Food Label Information Program 2013 database (n = 15,200) were evaluated using Health Canada's published criteria: thresholds for sodium, sugars and saturated fats that products cannot exceed in order to be M2K. The proportion of products exceeding no thresholds (i.e., permitted to be M2K), the number of thresholds exceeded, and the proportion exceeding each individual threshold were calculated overall and in the subsample of products displaying M2K on the packaging (n = 747). Overall, 18.0% of products would be permitted to be M2K, versus 2.7% of products displaying M2K. Sodium was the most exceeded threshold overall (57.5% of products), whereas sugars was the most exceeded by products displaying M2K (80.1%). Only 4.7% of all products versus 10.4% of products displaying M2K exceeded all three thresholds. These results highlight the importance of reintroducing federal regulations restricting M2K in Canada and including marketing on product packaging in the regulatory scope.