Junk Food Advertising in Canada: How Should it be Regulated?


Élisabeth Gibeau


Union des consommateurs




In 2006, a study by Union des consommateurs (UC) concluded that it was necessary to “intervene to regulate advertising intended for children, if the food-processing industry cannot be persuaded to act responsibly.” 13 years later, UC believes the subject is more relevant than ever. While arguments against junk food advertising frequently address the health aspect, i.e. the health impact of advertised food that contains too much salt, fat or sugar, UC's report addresses the subject from the angle of consumer rights, based on the United Nations Guidelines for Consumer Protection. With those principles underlying their approach, a major review of the literature enabled UC to identify current trends in the regulation of advertising aimed at children, particularly regarding junk food, and to observe the scientific advances that have occurred since their previous study on the subject, including scientific research on the development of children’s’ brains. UC then performed a detailed analysis of the regulations in place in Canada, Québec, Sweden, Norway, France and the United States. The findings resulting from this analysis led UC to recommend that federal lawmakers follow the model adopted by Québec and totally prohibit advertising aimed at children less than 13 years of age.

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OCA Funded Research
This research received funding support through the Office of Consumer Affairs' Contributions Program.

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Union des consommateurs
7000 Parc Ave, Suite 201
Montreal, QC  H3N 1X1
(514) 521-6820
(514) 521-0736

Source: Consumer Policy Research Database

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