Now it's easier for parents to make healthier food choices for their families

By Lydia Knorr, MHSc, Registered Dietitian and mother of three

Are you trying to make healthier food choices for your family?

A voluntary initiative by 18 leading Canadian food and beverage companies is helping parents and kids make healthier food choices. The Canadian Children's Food and Beverage Advertising Initiative was established in 2007 to shift the emphasis in advertising to children under 12 to the promotion of healthier food choices and healthy lifestyles. Under this program, member companies either do not advertise to children, or only advertise "better-for you" food and beverage products.

Now, the member companies have developed one set of standard nutrition criteria that will determine which food and beverage products can be advertised to children under the program. So what do these criteria look like? They are uniform within eight product categories, set calorie maximums for products within each category, set limits on fat, sodium and sugar, and include criteria for nutrients to encourage, such as vitamins, minerals and fibre.

For consumers, this means they can be confident that products advertised to children by the member companies meet these criteria. If products don't meet the new criteria by December 31, 2015, the companies are committed to either making the necessary changes so they do meet, or else they will not be advertised to children at all. And any new products companies want to advertise must meet the criteria right away.

As a Registered Dietitian, I'm happy to see a voluntary effort that establishes a set of criteria reflective of nutrition standards worldwide.

As a mom, I feel this is a great way to help parents like myself, make healthier food selections for their families.

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