Mr. Speaker, I stand before the House to speak to Bill S-228, a bill that calls for changes to the Food and Drugs Act to prohibit the marketing of unhealthy food and beverages directly to Canadian children under the age of 17.
Bill S-228 is meant to address childhood obesity. We can all recognize that childhood obesity is a legitimate public policy concern. As members of Parliament, parents, aunts, uncles, members of the community, we all want to see our children and youth thrive and live healthy lives. However, Bill S-228 is far from the solution. It is a distraction from the urgent need to explore the real causes of childhood obesity, namely, the lack of balance between diet, screen time, and physical activity.
Evidence does not support that marketing of unhealthy foods and beverages is the true cause of childhood obesity in Canada. Childhood obesity is a complex and multi-dimensional problem. A holistic approach that takes into account the full set of causes of childhood obesity would better serve Canadians in the interest of truly protecting our children from the negative impacts of obesity on their health and well-being, thus encourage long lives filled with healthy lifestyles.
The main issue I wish to address after reading Bill S-228 is where the evidence and science is that supports the very purpose of the bill. Statistics Canada data suggest that added sugar consumption has been declining over the past two decades. During the same period, obesity rates have continued to rise. This finding was extremely significant, considering the bill states in its preamble that there is widespread marketing of food and beverage to children and restrictions to the marketing of unhealthy food and beverages to children must be mandated to curb the rapid growth of childhood obesity in Canada.
I strongly encourage my colleagues in the House to read Bill S-228. It should not take them more than five minutes of their time. They will note that the bill as currently drafted is extremely vague and leaves too many doors open to unintended consequences. We do not know yet what constitutes unhealthy food.