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The Thunder Bay District Health Unit supports a report that urges Ontario to ban the marketing of junk food to children under 12 years old.
The report, which was released Monday, listed recommendations to the province to not only ban ads targeting young children but also eliminate promotions and displays for high-calorie, low-nutrition foods at stores.
The report’s aim is to combat childhood obesity.
Some of the recommendations include starting the ban with sugary drinks and have restaurants, grocery stores and fast food chains list the calories of each item on their menu.
Janice Piper, a public health nutritionist at the Health Unit, welcomed the recommendations.
Adult obesity in the city is higher when compared to the province and Piper suspected the rates for children were also high.
Obesity rates have been on the rise across Canada for the past 20 years. In 2004, 27.5 per cent of Ontario children between the ages of two and 17 were considered overweight or obese.
Piper said removing advertisements for unhealthy foods gives children a better chance to make healthier food choices.
“When you think about the type of foods that are advertised they’re usually processed foods that are high in sugars, salt and fat,” she said.
“Those poor choices that we’re starting to eat more of are playing a role in the development of different health problems. We do support recommendations to kind of change the environment to make it easier for parents to make a healthier choice.”
She said the report looks at taking a collective approach at the government level as well as the school and on a personal level.
She added the health unit is excited by the recommendations because it works well with initiatives already underway in the city.
The Canadian Press reported that the government plans to create a group headed by Health Minister Deb Matthews to give direction how to implement the recommendations.
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