Canada must be a leader in providing kids with the tools, opportunity, and support to make healthy food choices – our collective future depends on it. We need to act now, before already alarming rates of diet-related conditions become worse.
On October 6, CFCC President and CEO Nick Saul moderated a panel discussion with Senator Nancy Greene Raine; our Good Food Champion Jamie Oliver; student advocate Nathan Sing; Dr. Jan Hux, Chief Science Officer at the Canadian Diabetes Association; Dr. Tom Warshawski, Chair of the Childhood Obesity Foundation; and Geoff Craig, Chief Marketing Officer at the Heart and Stroke Foundation on the role of government, industry, and the nonprofit sector in creating healthier food environments for children in Canada. You can watch video of the panel here.
How can we stack the deck in favour of supporting kids and parents to make healthy food choices? In September, Senator Nancy Greene Raine introduced a bill that proposes to restrict food marketing to kids under 13. Jamie Oliver, meanwhile, proposes a six-point plan that includes regulating food marketing to kids, implementing a universal school nutrition program, setting mandatory targets to reduce sugar content in processed food, and making food labels easier to understand. Read his galvanizing call in the Globe and Mail.
We also believe that making healthy food more easily available and affordable, and giving youth access to fun and hands-on food skills and food education programs also plays an important role in encouraging children to form healthy food behaviours that can continue into adulthood. We're grateful to Jamie Oliver and his Jamie's Italian restaurants for making Community Food Centres Canada the recipient of funds levied through a 10-cent fee on all sugary drinks served in two Toronto locations. Money raised from the levy will support food education programming at Community Food Centres across the country.
Highlights from the panel
Jaime Oliver reminded us that we created our food system, so we also have the power to change it for the better.
Dr. Jan Hux, Chief Science Officer, Canadian Diabetes Association stressed that not all choices are within our individual control.
Dr. Tom Warshawski, Chair, Childhood Obesity Foundation looked to past public health successes for inspiration.
"This problem has come on so slowly that we don't realize the health risks attributable to unhealthy diets are the same as with tobacco. We need the exact same strategies – we need regulation."
Geoff Craig, Chief Marketing Officer for Heart and Stroke Foundation underlined the power of marketing.
“We know that over 90 per cent of food decisions in the household are driven by children. The ‘nag factor’ does not come out of nowhere — it is driven by marketing messages. It is not a fair fight for parents. Winning the battle for harmony often means losing the battle for health."
Nathan Sing, journalism student at Ryerson University, on the food environment at his high school.
"Even if I'd wanted to make a healthy food choice in my high school, I wouldn't have been able to."
Nick Saul, President & CEO of Community Food Centres Canada on the role of the public in calling for change.
"It really does come back to us as citizens giving this voice and volume. Change happens because you fight for it. Health happens because you fight for it. We cannot afford to be bystanders on this."
Photo by Dhoui Chang