Digital regulations are vital for protecting children targeted by unhealthy food and beverage ads
With over half of Canadian children owning a cell phone by grade 7, Dr. Monique Potvin Kent and team from the School of Epidemiology and Public Health set out to explore their hypothesis that children are highly exposed to ads for unhealthy foods and beverages on social media and gaming apps.
While children saw few ads on gaming applications, the team found that over 70% of Ottawa children saw food marketing on social media, most frequently for fast food, sugar-sweetened beverages, candy/chocolates, snacks and alcohol. The estimated annual exposure of 5772 ads per child, says the team, may greatly influence children’s perceptions of a normal diet and their food preferences.
To protect children’s health, the researchers stressed the importance of including restrictions on digital marketing when developing regulations that limit unhealthy food and beverage marketing to children. The Heart and Stroke Foundation commissioned and reported on the research.