Marketing of unhealthy food to children and youth

Ottawa Public Health launched an online survey June 12, 2017, the first step in a broader public consultation, asking residents, businesses and sports groups to "have their say" on marketing of unhealthy food and beverage to children and youth in our community. The results of the consultation will help Ottawa Public Health better understand what Ottawa residents think about marketing of unhealthy food and beverages to children and youth in Ottawa and will be used to guide future public health work in this area.

Marketing is any message that advertises or promotes a product or service

The public consultation closed in September 2017. The findings of the consultation are available in the Ottawa Board of Health report. If you would like further information on this initiative, OPH invites you to read the previous Ottawa Board of Health reportblog, and the Heart and Stroke Foundations report "The kids are not alright".

Download the full Marketing to Children and youth Consultation report (PDF)

If you have questions about this consultation, please contact us:

  • By phone: 613-580-6744 (Monday to Friday 8:30am to 4:30pm)
  • By email: M2CY@ottawa.ca.

What we heard from Ottawa residents in our randomized phone survey

Download "Food and Drinks Marketing to Children and Youth in Ottawa" Infographic (PDF) [3.4 MB]

The food and drink industry targets children and youth

9 out of 10 people

agree that children and youth are targeted

3 in 4 people

agree that it is mostly for products that are unhealthy

Marketing influences children and youth's food and drink choices

9  out of 10 people

agree that it affects their food and drink choices and makes them consume more unhealthy options

3 in 4 people

agree that it affects what they ask their parents or guardians to buy

Marketing impacts their health

9 out of 10 people

agree that it can cause health problems such as obesity in children and youth, or cause health problems later when they are adults


What Ottawa residents said about marketing of unhealthy food and drinks in our city

Marketing of food and drinks targets children and youth all day long

Sophia's Day

Sophia

Child Care Centres and Schools

A school

1 in 3 have seen marketing in schools

1 in 10 have seen marketing in child care centres

8 in 10 support putting limits on marketing in child care centres and in schools

9 in 10 support decreasing the availability of unhealthy food and drinks in child care centres and schools

Public Libraries and Recreation Centres

A recreation centre

1 in 3 have seen marketing at public libraries and recreation centres

7 in 10 support putting limits on the marketing in public libraries and recreation centres

8 in 10 support decreasing the availability of unhealthy food and drinks in public libraries or recreation centres

Other City Properties

A bus

4 in 10 have seen marketing at beaches, parks, playgrounds, recreational playing fields and on public transit

7 in 10 have seen marketing at special events like festivals and sports events on City property

7 in 10 support putting limits on marketing on City property

Food and Drink Marketing is Everywhere

Download "Food and Drink Marketing is Everywhere" Infographic (PDF) [3.6 MB]

 5, 8, 10 and 16 year old

  • 5 year-old child can't tell the difference between an ad and a television show.
  • 8 year-old child unlikely to know the reasons behind marketing.
  • 10 year-old child knows that ads sell products, but is often unable to judge an ad.
  • 16 year-old youth is influenced by digital marketing. It is an entertainment, grabbing their focus and attention.

Foods children eat and ask their parents to buy can be influenced by advertising.

It influences them to eat unhealthy foods. It makes unhealthy foods seem "normal."

Unhealthy diets over the course of time lead to high blood pressure, cancer, heart disease, obesity and diabetes.

Marketing of food and drinks targets children and youth all day long.

Marketing is any message that advertises or promotes a product or service.

Sophia's Day (24 hrs)

Sophia's Day

At Home:

  • Advertisements on TV, smartphone and tablet
  • Advergames and ads on social media

Public transit:

  • Billboards and posters using cartoons, licensed characters and celebrities in vehicles and bus shelters

School/Child care:

  • Sponsored educational materials
  • Food and drinks used for fundraising

Library:

  • Branded signage outside, entrance, hallways

Recreation Centres, Parks, Rinks, Beaches:

  • Ads on rink boards
  • Branding on sports clothing and equipment
  • Where food and drink products are placed and displayed in canteen with lots of colorful packaging

Adapted from:  Prowse, R.L. (2015). A Day in the Life of a Canadian Child: Food and Beverage Marketing to Children in Canada. Prepared for Office of Nutrition Policy and Promotion, Health Canada.

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