Digital food and beverage marketing to children

We have just completed a study examining children and teens’s exposure to food and beverage marketing on their preferred websites as well as examining the nutritional quality of this marketing. Some preliminary results from this research have been published in the recent Heart and Stroke Report  The kids are not alright. How the food and beverage industry is marketing our children and youth to death. 2017 Report on the Health of Canadians

We continue to conduct research on digital food and beverage marketing and the healthfulness of food advertising in the digital sphere. We are currently examining the prevalence of food marketing on social media sites that are preferred by teens. We are also developing a study that will examine the frequency of food marketing on gaming and non-gaming apps found on tablets and smartphones. This research will enable us to estimate child and teen exposure to food marketing on these apps and link it to behavioral outcomes such as food requests and food intake. 

Food and beverage marketing in primary and secondary schools

Food and beverage marketing is an aspect of the school environment that is frequently overlooked. We are currently conducting three studies that examine food and beverage marketing within the school context in order to inform food and nutrition policy in this milieu.

Our first study in this area examines the frequency of food and beverage marketing in Canadian primary and secondary schools in Nova Scotia, Ontario and British Columbia. We are also conducting a policy scan of food and nutritional policies in these provinces with the University of Glasgow. Finally, in association with colleagues at the University of British Columbia, we are examining methodologies used in the assessment of food and beverage marketing in the school environment.


Marketing of breakfast cereals

Breakfast cereals is a product category that is heavily marketed to children and adults as a healthy choice. This research examines (1) the healthfulness of breakfast cereals targeted at children and sold in large Canadian supermarkets, (2) the marketing techniques used on breakfast cereal packaging including health and nutrient content claims, and (3) the marketing of healthier and less healthy breakfast cereals within large Canadian supermarkets.

Corporate social responsibility initiatives undertaken by food and beverage companies in Canada

This research study aims to examine the scope of food and beverage companies’ corporate social responsibility initiatives related to nutrition and physical activity.

Nutrition labeling

Health Canada has recently reviewed its nutritional labeling regulations and these are to be implemented by 2021.  In collaboration with Health Canada, we are conducting two studies aimed at assessing the impact of these forthcoming changes.  In particular, we are interested in changes in Canadians’ understanding of  food and beverage labeling and the impact of changing serving size on food intake.  As part of this work, we are also developing and validating a general nutrition knowledge questionnaire. As of yet, there are no such questionnaires validated for use in Canada.

Food and beverage advertising on television

We are conducting several studies on food and beverage advertising on television. Building on our previous work, one of our studies seeks to assess the impact of Quebec’s Consumer Protection Act on the frequency, healthfulness and persuasive power of food advertising on television programs watched by children and adolescents. Other research is examining youth’s exposure to food and beverage advertising on television as well as patterns of energy drink advertising.

Political activities of food and beverage companies in Canada

This research is examining the practices and strategies used by food and beverage companies in their attempt to influence food and nutrition policies in Canada.

Advertising of fast-food and sugar-sweetened beverages

Using data from the Canada Food Study, this study examines the exposure of young adults to fast-food and sugar-sweetened beverage advertising in traditional and digital media and whether it varies according to socio-demographic characteristics. This study will also investigate the impact of exposure on dietary behaviors.