03/27/2017 19:57 EDT | Updated 03/28/2018 01:12 EDT

Ottawa Public Health mulls ways to shield kids from junk food

The city's public health agency wants to see if there is an appetite in Ottawa for keeping unhealthy food and drink out of the city's schools, daycares and recreation centres.

Ottawa Public Health was directed last year to find out what it could do to support the Heart and Stroke Foundation and Health Canada in their campaign to limit the marketing of unhealthy foods high in salt, fat, sugar or calories.

In a report to be tabled next Monday at the city's board of health meeting, the agency suggests five possible policies that could be done on a municipal level.

Those policies are:

  • Restricting food and beverage marketing to children on municipal property, such as childcare settings, libraries, public transit, recreation centres and parks.
  • Restricting food and beverage marketing in schools.
  • Limiting access to food and beverages high in salt, fat, sugar or calories on municipal property.
  • Reviewing zoning restrictions close to child-focused settings including schools and playgrounds.
  • Limiting sole-sourced contracts with food and beverage companies to ensure the healthfulness of food and beverage options. This would include the numbers, content and placement of vending machines in child-focused settings.

Public to be consulted on 5 possible options

Ottawa Public Health is asking the board to give the go-ahead to allow the agency to consult with the general public, community groups and stakeholders, on the five possible options.

In addition to the consultation, the health agency also asked the board to write letters to federal Health Minister Jane Philpott and Senator Greene Raine in support of two pieces of federal legislation:

  • Bill C-313, which aims to amend the federal Food and Drugs Act to prohibit the marketing of food and beverages to children under 13.
  • Bill S-228, which calls for the development and implementation of a national strategy on advertising to children and amendments to the Broadcasting Act.

Next Tuesday's Ottawa Board of Health meeting will also receive the Ottawa Public Health 2016 annual report.