A new study from the University of Ottawa shows that three out of four Canadian children are exposed to food marketing on a daily basis. The study found that children perceive 111 ads each week, but not on TV — on social media apps like Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter and YouTube.
In a news statement, the study’s author Monique Potvin Kent declares:
This level of exposure may greatly influence children’s perception of a normal diet, as well as their food preferences and the foods they actually consume.
The food marketed to children is almost exclusively highly-processed junk food. Since the 1970s, obesity in adolescents has tripled in Canada, and we see the same trend in affluent countries across the globe. The targeting of children through their smartphones is making the problem worse. Canada, like most countries, lacks regulations to protect children from the food industry’s aggressive marketing machine.
Cutting sugar and processed food is a top priority in the fight against childhood obesity. The World Health Organization (WHO) is urging countries to set policies to limit children’s exposure to this kind of junk food marketing. We couldn’t agree more.