Health minister Deb Matthews speaks to reporters before the start of a Ontario government caucus meeting at Roberta Bondar Place on Foster Drive in Sault Ste. Marie, Ont., on Friday, March 1, 2013.
Credits: BRIAN KELLY/THE SAULT STAR/QMI AGENCY
The future is calling and it has a sobering message for young people.
Without significant change -- such as banning the marketing of junk food on TV and in stores to children under 12 years old -- up to 70% of today’s children will be overweight adults by 2040, an Ontario Healthy Kids Panel report says.
No Time to Wait: The Healthy Kids Strategy asks the provincial government to provide more support for pregnant women and infants, change the food environment for kids and families and create healthy communities that encourage active living.
Health Minister Deb Matthews, at the Toronto Centre Rosedale Ontario Early Years Centre Monday for the report’s release, said she will chair an inter-ministerial working group that looks at implementation of its recommendations.
The report did not propose a so-called “fat tax” on junk food, as some groups, such as the Ontario Medical Association, have suggested.
Instead, the Healthy Kids panel says there should be a ban on the marketing of high-calorie, low-nutrient foods, beverages and snacks to children under the age of 12.
Ontario should also ban point-of-sale promotions and displays of junk food, particularly sugar-sweetened beverages such as pop, which is the source of many of the calories taken in by children, the panel says.
All restaurants should be required to list the calories of the items on a menu or menu board at point of sale, the report says.
The panel says Ontario already spends about $4.5 billion a year treating obesity-related health issues, and children are on a course that will see them suffer from chronic illnesses at even younger ages.
“This is not a nice-to-do; this is a must-do,” Matthews said of the report’s recommendations.