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Health Canada Considers Sweeping Ban On Junk Food Ads Aimed At Children And Teens

Government is also revising the Canada Food Guide to include foods that should be avoided altogether

The junk food advertising ban for everyone under the age of 17 would cover most cheeses and foods that are high in fat and salt such as chips, frozen waffles, fruit juice and even granola bars.

Health Canada is considering a widespread ban on the marketing of unhealthy food to kids under the age of 17. It could cover everything from TV, online and print advertising to product labelling, in-store displays and even end some sponsorships for sports teams.

The federal government announced the first step in St. John’s this morning by launching public consultations on how foods are marketed to kids in Canada.

“Most of the foods that are marketed to kids are these ones that are high in fat, high in sugar, high in sodium, so that’s what we’re looking at,” said Hasan Hutchinson, director general at Health Canada, who is overseeing the consultations.
“That would then cut out all of the things like, of course, your regular soda, most cookies, cakes, pies, puddings, ice cream, most cheeses because they are high in fat, they’re high in salt,” he said.

Health Canada would also target foods such as sugar-sweetened yogurt, frozen waffles, fruit juice, granola bars and potato chips.

The federal government looked at the Quebec ban on advertising to children, which has been in place since 1980.

In that province, companies can’t market unhealthy food to children under 13 years old. But Health Canada wants to go further, banning marketing to any person under 17.

“We know of course that children under 13 are particularly impressionable. But we feel that evidence is showing that teens [in the] 13- to 17-year-old age group are equally a vulnerable group,” Hutchinson said.

He points to the fact that many young teens have their own income for the first time, and are not as closely supervised by their parents.

Targeting high caffeine drinks

It is an argument Senator Nancy Greene Raine supports.

The Conservative senator introduced a private member’s bill last November that would have banned junk food advertising to children under 13.

But in her first appearance before the Senate committee studying her bill earlier this month, Greene Raine told senators she will be amending her bill to raise the age once it goes for clause-by-clause consideration.

‘Red Bull. Rockstar. These highly caffeinated soft drinks are working on the adolescents…but targetting them is really unhealthy,’
– Nancy Green Raine, Senator

“Some products that are being marketed to teenagers are, in my mind, very harmful. Red Bull. Rockstar. These highly caffeinated soft drinks are working on the adolescents — they like those products. But targeting them is really unhealthy,” Greene Raine said.

And she worries bad food choices made as teenagers lead to bad food choices in adulthood.

“A predilection to choosing foods high in sugar, salt, and fat as teenagers, can result in poor food choices for the rest of their lives,” said Greene Raine. “It’s recognized as one of the precursors to becoming overweight and obese, leading to all kinds of other chronic diseases.”

Sports teams

As part of the consultations, Health Canada is asking the public if the advertising ban should extend to sponsorships of sports teams.

Hutchinson said this is one area he thinks there could be some pushback from parents, who may believe sponsorships are critical for small sports teams to operate.

“They’re advertising because it has an effect. There’s a reason why they’re putting money into those sorts of programs,” Hutchinson said.

Greene Raine said she understands the link between sponsorships and sports — the senator won gold and silver medals for skiing at the 1968 Olympics, later becoming a spokesperson for Mars bars.

Still, Raine believes there should be some kind of limit on sponsorship of sports teams by companies that sell junk food.

“When you see things like: ‘wear your team jersey and come to our fast food outlet and we’ll give you a free slushie,’ that crosses the line,” Raine said.

Revising the Canada Food Guide

Health Canada is also launching a second round of consultations on the revised Canada Food Guide.

There were nearly 20,000 submissions in the first round of consultations in the fall of 2016, including 14,000 from the public.

The guide lists the foods Canadians should use as the foundation of a good diet, such as fruits, vegetables and whole grains.

But for the first time, Health Canada is also listing the foods that should be avoided outright.

“What we’ve done is a special case on avoidance of processed or prepared beverages that are high in sugars, because based on our evidence reviews, we think we’ve got enough evidence to be as strong as that. We’ve never said anything quite that strong,” said Hutchinson.

On the naughty list: soft drinks, fruit-flavoured drinks including water, energy drinks and flavoured milks.

Susan Lunn · CBC News   June 10, 2017
source: www.cbc.ca

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U.S. energy drink makers not reporting caffeine levels, study says

CTVNews.ca Staff      Published Thursday, Oct. 25, 2012

Energy drink manufacturers do not accurately list the levels of caffeine in their drinks, a new report says.

Consumer Reports magazine measured caffeine levels in 27 energy drinks and shots, testing three lots of each product. The amount of caffeine found in the drinks ranged from 6 milligrams to 242 milligrams per serving, with some packages including more than one serving.

While caffeine can boost energy, it can also affect heart rhythms and increase blood pressure. Research suggests 400 milligrams is the maximum daily limit of caffeine for healthy adults. That figure is 200 milligrams for pregnant women, and 45 to 85 milligrams for children.

The drink 5-hour Energy Extra Strength had the highest amount of caffeine, while 5-hour Energy Decaf had the lowest, the study found.

The magazine also found that in five of the 16 drinks that reported caffeine levels, namely Arizona Energy, Clif Shot Turbo Energy Gel, Nestlé Jamba, Sambazon Organic Amazon Energy, and Venom Energy, the actual amount of caffeine was much more than what was listed on the labels.

“Some of the energy drinks underestimated the amount of caffeine listed on the label by 20 per cent or more,” says Consumer Reports’ deputy health editor Gayle Williams.

Eleven drinks did not list caffeine levels at all, which Consumer Reports suggested might be to protect companies’ proprietary blends.

According to a representative of the Monster Beverage Corporation, the company does not list levels because in the U.S. “there is no legal or commercial business requirement to do so, and also because our products are completely safe, and the actual numbers are not meaningful to most consumers.”

However, last week, the parents of a 14-year-old California girl filed a wrongful death suit against the company after their daughter drank two 24-ounce Monster Energy Drinks in 24 hours. According to an autopsy, the girl died of cardiac arrhythmia due to caffeine toxicity.

A 24-ounce can of Monster Energy Drink contains 240 milligrams of caffeine, and the girls’ parents say the company did not warn about the risks of consuming the drink.

Consumer Reports says Monster Energy Drink is one of 17 products whose labels caution against consumption by children, pregnant or nursing woman, and those who are caffeine-sensitive. In addition, the company, along with eight others, recommends a daily limit.

Monster Energy Drink is also suspected to be linked to five deaths and a non-fatal heart attack in a report being investigated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

Health Canada says it is moving energy drinks from the “natural health product” category to the food category. This means labelling will be mandatory and no drink will be able to have more than 180 mg of caffeine.

With files from The Associated Press and CTV’s Seamus O’ Regan

source: ctvnews