The Ontario Medical Association wants graphic warning labels on food and drinks aimed at children due to the 'public health epidemic' that is childhood obesity. Obviously fat kids are fat because they eat too much and don't excersize enough. It couldn't possibly be because of genetics or poverty or lack of access to places to play, or any number of intersecting things! Thanks to The National for pointing this campaign out to me. Via the website, the OMA wants the province to:
- Increasing taxes on junk food and decreasing taxes on healthy foods.
- Restricting marketing of fatty and sugary foods to children.
- Placing graphic warning labels on pop and other high-calorie foods with little to no nutritional value.
- Adding retail displays for high-sugar, high-fat foods that prominently advise consumers of the health risks.
- Restricting the availability of sugary, low-nutritional value foods in sports and other recreational facilities frequented by young people.
Playing the blame and shame game is RIGHT. We already know campaigns like this don't work; Denmark started one and abandoned it. All over the States different governments have tried to do similar things with zero results. All something like labels do is make people feel guilty for their choices. Besides, obesity rates in youth have stayed the same for the last decade, so I don't know why they're screaming about an epidemic. Also, seeing as how they're worried about kids ages 5-17, I want to know what they're using to measure whether or not kids are obese or overweight. If it's BMI they're barking up the wrong tree, as BMI was never intended for use on kids as they're growing and changing so quickly. Instead, a percentiles chart will give much better information as to where a child is in relation to their peers.
I'm hoping that if/when the OMA does approach the province the idea gets shot down as stupid and ineffective, as it should. Then again, it's not like Ontario *has* a sitting government at the moment, as the premier resigned and the legislature has been prorogued in the meantime.
Edited to add: It's nice to see Dr. Sharma, Canada's leading obesity expert, speak out against these recommendations with a great post, saying in part: Rather than calling for populistic and unproven policy strategies, many of which fall in the categories of tax, ban, shame, blame, scare, punish, and have yet to prove effective in any jurisdiction in preventing childhood (and ultimately adult) obesity, I would have much preferred Ontario’s doctors to turn inward to look at steps that they could themselves take to better tackle this epidemic in their offices (such as perhaps implement the 5As of Obesity Management in their practices?).