The federal government is being called on by researchers from the University of Alberta, along with Canadian obesity experts to ban food and beverage advertisements that target children.
Kim Raine, a professor with the Centre for Health Promotion Studies in the School of Public Health at the University of Alberta, said governments should take action to stem the rising obesity epidemic.
The only exception to a proposed food and beverage marketing ban would be for approved public health campaigns that promote healthy eating, she said.
Raine, who is the lead author of new consensus recommendations calling for the ban, said restricting marketing is not going to be a cure for childhood obesity, but it is one step in a multi-pronged approach to creating an environment where the healthy choice is the easy choice.
She further said that children are attracted to flashy and highly marketed high-sugar and high-fat foods, which eventually undermine parents' efforts to encourage their children to eat a healthy diet.
The recommendations, developed by leading Canadian and international obesity experts, were published last month in the peer-reviewed Journal of Public Health Policy.
More than five million Canadians are considered obese, including 500,000 children, and the number of kids who are overweight or obese has more than doubled since the early 1980s.
The panel, which also included U of A researchers Timothy Caulfield and John C. Spence, is also calling on government to create a regulatory body that would ensure children are protected from exposure to food ads.