The OUTLIVE Lab (fOod and nUtriTion poLicy for obesIty preVEntion) specializes in conducting research on food and nutrition policies aimed at the prevention of obesity and related chronic diseases. We conduct research on food and beverage marketing, nutrition labeling, and nutrition education. We work in partnership with many governmental agencies, non-governmental organizations, and researchers involved in the field of health and public health policy.
“Unless effective population-level interventions to reduce obesity are developed, the steady rise in life expectancy observed in the modern era may soon come to an end and the youth of today may, on average, live less healthy and possibly even shorter lives than their parents.”
Olshansky et al. (2005). A Potential Decline in Life Expectancy in the United States in the 21st Century. N Engl J Med 352;11: 1138-1145.
Our main area of research focuses on food and beverage marketing to children in various media platforms and settings. Two large systematic reviews of the literature have shown that food and beverage marketing is associated with childhood obesity and with children's food preferences and intake. As a result, the World Health Organization is pushing member states to regulate food and beverage marketing to children.
To date some of our most significant research findings include that:
- Children in Canada are viewing high levels of food and beverage marketing on television and in digital media and the majority of the products advertised are high in sugar, fat and sodium.
- Children’s exposure to food and beverage advertising has increased in Canada since the implementation of a self-regulatory policy designed by 19 industry leaders to reduce food and beverage marketing to children;
- The nutritional quality of food advertising remains unchanged despite industry commitments to improve the nutritional quality of advertised foods;
- The advertising ban in Quebec that has existed in that province since 1980 is having an impact. Compared to children outside of Quebec, children in Quebec view fewer food and beverage ads on children's specialty channels, fewer unhealthy child-targeted products such as sugary cereals, and advertising techniques such as the use of spokes-characters and licensed characters are used much less frequently.
- The Anglophone minority in Quebec is not protected by the Quebec advertising ban that has existed since 1980 in that province because of cross-border media.