Not surprisingly, a recent study showed that popular music celebrities are endorsing energy-dense, nutrient-poor products—what you and I call junk food and drinks. The Canadian study published in the journal Pediatrics begins with the premise that food and beverage marketing is associated with childhood obesity, a growing problem in Canada.
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While the results may seem obvious to anyone who watches television in North America, it does serve to raise serious issues, says Charlene Elliott, a professor and Canada Research Chair in Food Marketing at the University of Calgary.
‘Normalizing…the eating of unhealthy foods’
“If you have a celebrity which the teenager is a fan of, this helps to normalize the eating of unhealthy foods,” says Elliott. “In the research we’ve done with teenagers and young Canadians, they’re not particularly concerned about their health. They consider that to be an adult prerogative…that they should be considering it at a different period of time.”
Prime minister wants restrictions
The study has revived questions about advertising to children. In his instructions to his cabinet minister responsible for health, newly-elected Prime Minister Justin Trudeau called for restrictions on the marketing of unhealthy foods to children. The province of Quebec has already banned the marketing of all products to children under the age of 13.
Not a fair fight, says doctor
Obesity expert Dr. Yoni Freedhoff told CBC news he thinks that would be a good idea. “Right now nobody bats an eye at Beyoncé signing a $50-million deal to sell liquid candy to kids,” said Freedhoff, an assistant professor of family medicine at the University of Ottawa. “Pitting my three kids against…the advertising world with billion-dollar budgets and neuropsychologists and MRI studies, that’s not a fair fight,” he told CBC.
Source Lynn Desjardins, Radio Canada International
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