NEWS

The Government of Canada releases new food guide

Healthy eating is more than just the foods you eat. Read here to learn more about recommended food choices, eating habits, recipes, tips and resources. This food guide follows  three years of extensive consultation with Canadian health professionals and reviews of guides from other leading countries in the world. It will help set the standards for food literacy and eating practices for years to come.

Canada's Food Guide

Kids in the kitchen

The new school year is around the corner, and it may look different from usual. Canada’s food guide is here to help you. Whether you’re packing lunches and snacks for school or eating at home, involve your kids in planning and preparation. This helps them develop important food skills and healthy eating habits that will last a lifetime. Try these ideas:

  • Let them choose. Sit down together and make a list of different meals and snacks your kids enjoy. Make sure the list includes a variety of vegetables, fruits, whole grain foods and protein foods.

  • Assign a task. Young kids can wash vegetables and fruits. Older kids can assemble their own meals and snacks. 

  • Try new recipes together. Swap kid-friendly recipes with friends or find recipes online. Let your kids choose ones that look good to them. 

  • Encourage learning. Talk to your kids about what makes a healthy meal. 

Did you know?

Teaching kids skills like reading a recipe, writing grocery lists, measuring ingredients and food preparation supports their learning of math, reading, writing and science! 

Kid-friendly recipes

Try out one of our new kid-friendly recipes! They are easy to prepare and fun to eat:

Announcing Aim2Be

Childhood Obesity Foundation announces the availability of Aim2Be; two apps-one for parents and one for kids 10+, providing proven strategies and small steps towards a healthier life. To learn more and to access the apps: www.Aim2Be.ca

Research Findings

The Current State of Local Food Use and Food Literacy in Meal and Snack Programs Targeted to Young Children in Ontario

Canadians are now the second highest buyers of ultra-processed foods

Close to half of total daily energy intake comes from consuming ultra-processed foods and beverages. Ultra-processed food intakes are highest among children aged 9 to 13 years at 57.2% of total energy and for adolescents 14 to 18 was 54.7%. People born in Canada had a higher intake of ultra-processed foods (51.6%) compared to newcomers or migrants (37.8%). These findings can be read here in a study undertaken by Dr. Jean-Claude Moubarac from the University of Montreal, funded and commissioned by the Heart & Stroke Foundation of Canada. 

Translating ‘protein foods’ from the new Canada’s Food Guide to consumers: Knowledge gaps and recommendations 

This manuscript reflects topics discussed during the “Identifying Knowledge Gaps in Positioning Protein Foods to Canadian Consumers workshop” and by key experts to establish clarity on what is meant by “Protein Foods”. The manuscript synthesizes the discussions on protein food trends; guidance about protein foods; resources needed to inform various stakeholder audiences about  the “Protein Foods” category within the Canada's Food Guide, and knowledge and research gaps.

Media Literacy & Food Marketing - Lesson Plans


Many packaged food products found in supermarkets today are specifically designed to appeal to children. They range from dinosaur-shaped processed cheese, fruit gushers, and yogurt tubes to Dino-egg “hatching” oatmeal. They can sell the story of the product and highlight key attributes, but they don’t necessarily reflect the overall nutritional value. For this you need to examine the Nutrition Facts Table and ingredient list of each product. Charlene Elliott, PhD, Canada Research Chair, Food Marketing, Policy and Children’s Health, Meaghan Brierley PhD and their team at the University of Calgary have introduced a series of lesson plans, fact sheets and e-book to help parents, guardians and educators understand how children view and interpret packaged foods. These materials are part of the media literacy initiative for the Alberta school curriculum. They were based on focus groups and surveys with over 600 children, attending grades one thru nine. This project was funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) and Alberta Innovates Health Solutions (AIHS). Special thank you to the Calgary Institute for the Humanities (CIH).




Food & Beverage Label Information - Challenging to Understand


Next to general research on the internet, Canadians source nutrition information from food and beverage labels. This includes front of package labelling, health claims and the Nutrition Facts Table. However for many people information is challenging to understand. Lana Vanderlee, PhD, School of Public Health & Health Systems, University of Waterloo in her presentation at the Nutrition Resource Centre’s, Unpacking Nutrition Forum, indicated that the impact of policy on health disparities is particularly important. We need to consider lower literacy groups. Canadians report that The Nutrition Facts Table is helpful, however interpretation requires numeracy, literacy and math skills, beyond many peoples interest or abilities. Canadians prefer front of pack symbols that are directive in nature and simple to understand. Examples include a warning system, health star rating or traffic light labelling that indicates the intake amount of sugar, sodium and saturated fats.




Creating Healthier Food Environments in Canada - Current Policies and Priority Actions


Policy action is needed from governments to shift the food environment towards one that can promote healthy diets. This is the overall finding from more than 70 non- government experts from 44 universities and non-government and professional organizations across Canada.

The Food EPI Canada study lead by Dr. Lana Vanderlee and Dr. Mary L’Abbe at the University of Toronto used the Food Environment Policy Index tool developed by the International Network for Food & Obesity to examine the state of food environment policy in Canada compared to internationally established good practices.

Nutrition related behaviours are now the greatest contributor to mortality in Canada. Changes, both large and incremental are necessary to help Canadians eat healthy. Read here




Canada is a Leading Source of Research on Food Literacy


Canada leads the way when it comes to food literacy research: a scoping review examining definitions of food literacy found that Canadian studies were most frequently represented (39% of total literature reviewed, n=67) [1]. When it comes to the barriers to implementing food literacy concepts and programs, a recent review found that Canada was also the leading source of literature on that topic at 39% of included studies (n=38, including peer-reviewed, emergent, and grey literature). In the barriers literature reviewed (for all countries), adults were the most commonly studied (42%), followed by adolescents (32%) and children (24%). These studies examined food literacy implementation at the individual (37%), school (37%), and community (26%) levels [2].

Overall, the review identified 88 individual barriers to food literacy, across the three levels of food literacy adoption. Barriers were also reported in multiple categories, including: knowledge, attitudes, skills/abilities, resources, and environmental conditions. In all three cases, lack of resources was the leading category of barriers limiting food literacy proficiency (29% at the individual level, 42% at the school level, and 43% at the community level) [2].

[1] Truman, E., Lane, D., & Elliott, C. (2017). Defining food literacy: A scoping review. Appetite 116, 365-371. DOI: 10.1016/j.appet.2017.05.007

[2] Truman, E. & Elliott, C. (2019). Barriers to food literacy: a conceptual model to explore factors inhibiting proficiency. Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior 51(1), 107-111. DOI: 10.1016/j.jneb.2018.08.008





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