How the Federal Government Could Help All Canadians Meet Some New Year’s Resolutions

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The excesses of the holiday season will surely translate into serious New Years resolutions to eat healthier, exercise more, and take better care of ourselves. These are great goals that could benefit almost all Canadians. But we know that most will not achieve those goals that seem so tempting at hand on New Years Day.

It is because they are hard, very hard. We need all the help we can get. Including the federal government. Yes, Ottawa could and should help us eat better and give us a head start on achieving those great New Years Resolutions.

The government has done it in recent years, from a ban on industrially produced trans fats that clog the heart to the much-famous food guide. However, there are two remarkable parts of their healthy eating strategy that they should do, and indeed say they want to do – requiring easy to understand nutritional information to be prominently displayed on the front of packaged foods. and restrict marketing to children.

The new labeling rules would require a simple and clear message on the front of food packaging so that consumers quickly know if an item is high in sugars, sodium (salt) and / or saturated fat – the three big threats to food. Healthy eating.

This front-of-package labeling, already proposed by Health Canada, would be a much better and valuable tool for busy shoppers, as well as for those with low literacy, than Nutrition Facts tables which are currently difficult to read and understand in the world. back. or even the stockings of the current packages.

These new rules would also encourage manufacturers to reformulate products with less saturated fat, sodium or sugars so that they avoid the prominent “high in” label.

Limiting marketing to children is also a vital step in ending the current bombardment of our children with television and online advertising that pushes them to consume ultra-processed foods that are less healthy for them. Quebec has not allowed such advertising to children under 13 for decades, and data shows lower consumption rates of ultra-processed foods and lower obesity rates.

According to a poll from a year ago, 80 percent of Canadians support taking these two policy measures as quickly as possible to help consumers and protect our young people. Even the federal government itself agrees.

Health Canada released proposed front-of-package labeling regulations in 2018, but the process is dragging on. Restricting marketing to children across Canada was approved by the House of Commons, but did not get final approval in the Senate until the 2019 election was called.

Everything is in place to ensure that these important policies are adopted quickly. While our personal New Year’s goals may not be successful, we can all hope that 2022 will be the year the federal government fulfills its long-standing resolution to make these important changes.

Manuel Arango is director, policy and advocacy for Heart & Stroke.


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