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Nutrition Resource Centre Releases New Report on Healthy Eating in Ontario

Nutrition Resource Centre Releases New Report on Healthy Eating in Ontario
October 10, 2017

The Nutrition Resource Centre at the Ontario Public Health Association has released a report, “Healthy Eating in Ontario: What Do We Know?” to provide a glimpse of the determinants of healthy eating among Ontarians. 

Healthy eating is a known factor for reducing the risk of many chronic diseases, including obesity, diabetes, heart disease and certain kinds of cancers, however, little is known about the eating behaviours of Ontarians. 

Using Canadian Community Health Survey data, this report looks at several determinants of dietary intake including key indicators for healthy eating, food literacy and food insecurity.
 
Indicators considered for healthy eating included, for example, consumption of fruits and vegetables among Ontarians and whether or not they adjust recipes to make them healthier.

Food literacy indicators considered, for example, were self-rated food skills and whether or not children participate in household food preparation and grocery shopping.

Data was not available for food literacy and skills indicators at the provincial level, so Canadian data was used as a proxy. Canadian Community Health Survey data was analyzed to estimate the percentage of Ontario children and adults living in households experiencing “moderate” or “severe” levels of food insecurity. 
 

“Healthy eating is an essential component of overall health, wellbeing and chronic disease prevention,” says Pegeen Walsh, Executive Director of the Ontario Public Health Association.  “This new report provides a snapshot of where we’re at within the province when it comes to some indicators of healthy eating, food literacy and food insecurity." 

Consuming adequate amounts of vegetables and fruit is a key indicator for healthy eating, however, this study finds that fewer than 40% of Ontarians overall report consuming fruits and vegetables more than five times per day, with more women (45%) compared to men (37%) reporting this.
 
With regards to cooking skills the majority of Canadians 12 and older (92%) report having “good or very good skills” in chopping or slicing fruits and vegetables.

When it comes to cooking raw meat, chicken or fish, however, just over half of Canadian youth aged 12 to 17 years (52%) surveyed report having “good or very good skills” compared to 92% of adults and 89% of older adults.  Overall, adults report better food skills than Canadian youth, and females report somewhat better food skills than males.
 
About 9% of households in Ontario experience moderate or severe food insecurity based on 2014 CCHS data, with a much higher percentage of Aboriginal households not living on reserves (18%) experiencing moderate or severe food insecurity. 

The report highlights the need for more Ontario-specific data on the determinants of healthy eating in order to support the development evidence-informed and targeted policy and program measures contributing to improved and equitable health and wellbeing. 
 
"This publication underscores the existence of inequities, " says Walsh.  "OPHA is committed to closing these gaps and working with the province on healthy eating and nutrition interventions to improve health and wellbeing of Ontarians and generate data to measure the impact,” says Walsh. 
 
Should you have questions about the report, please feel free to contact Lynn Roblin, Senior Policy Consultant at 647-499-6651 or lroblin@opha.on.ca.

More about OPHA:
OPHA provides leadership on public health issues and works to strengthen the impact of people active in public and community health throughout Ontario. 

More about the Nutrition Resource Centre:
Housed within the OPHA, the NRC provides expertise and resources on nutrition, healthy eating and food for health professionals and its partners across Ontario. 
Read more in today's "news in brief"