They're calling it a crisis: childhood obesity.  Here's why.  One in three Ontario children now is considered overweight or obese.  Those numbers are on the rise. Now an expert panel says the Ontario Government should ban some advertising aimed at kids and force convenience stores to change their displays. 

At indoor gym class for Grade 6 students at St. Marguerite d’Youville School in Ottawa’s southeast, it’s the key to a long healthy life: exercise and good nutritious food.  

“To keep your body healthy is a good virtue in life especially as you gets older in life,” says student Klariza Juntilla. “When you exercise it adds more years on your life.  You get to live longer.”

“We need to teach kids that junk food isn't good for them,” adds student Warner Jaworski, “It can make them obese and you won't lead a very happy life.”  

The proof, sadly, is in the pudding.  One third of our children are now overweight or obese and only 7 percent get the required amount of exercise they need.

“There is a consensus that childhood obesity is a crisis,” says Kelly Murumets, co-chair of the Childhood Obesity Panel that authored called “No Time to Wait; the Healthy Kids Strategy. “There is not a consensus on a solution” she adds.  This "Healthy Kids Panel" presented its findings to Ontario's Health Minister today, recommending the province take a number of steps to chop childhood obesity. Key among them, focussing on pregnant moms and babies before obesity becomes an issue.

“The prenatal care that women receive in an environment that allows newborns to thrive,” says Alex Munter, panel co-chair and chief executive officer of the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario, “those two things will shape a baby’s entire future.”

The panel also wants a ban on the marketing of junk food to children 12 and under and a ban on displays of high-calorie, low nutrient foods at cash lines in stores.

Health Minister Deb Matthews adds “This is not a nice-to-do, this is a must-do.”

The director of CHEO’s Healthy Active Living and Obesity Research Group agrees. 

“We need to think of the food environment and the world where there is an omnipresence of unhealthy food,” says Dr. Mark Tremblay. “Can we make it more difficult to access those and easier to acess healthy food?”

He says obesity is not only causing health issues among our children but serious mental health issues too.

“Equally serious are mental health issues that go along with bullying and ostracizing and withdrawal which provokes further eating and more unhealthy behavior in kids.”

Ontario's Health Minister says her government is committed to considering every one of the recommendations.  Those who work in the field says there's no more time for talk. Action is needed