Bakers Journal

New study on Canadian eating habits

May 9, 2016
By Doug Picklyk

Toronto – Snacking makes up to 25 per cent of the daily energy intake for children and 23 per cent for adolescents—contributing more calories than breakfast — suggests a recent study on the eating habits of Canadians.

This result was revealed at the Evolution of Eating in Canada Symposium, held at the University of Toronto on Tuesday, April 26.

The findings were revealed in the latest Canadian Community Health Survey (CCHS) consumption data, a study designed to understand the nutrition and dietary patterns of Canadians. The study found that overall the diet quality of Canadians is poor.

The symposium, hosted by Nestlé Canada, was moderated by registered dietitian and president of Nutrition Solutions, Sue Mah, and included academic presentations and a panel discussion including: Mary R. L’Abbé, chair of the department of nutritional sciences, faculty of medicine, University of Toronto; Kathy Perrotta, vice president, IPSOS Reid; Rebecca Chesney, research and communications manager for the Institute for the Future; and Jane Dummer, registered dietitian and regular contributor to Bakers Journal.

“In our study, we saw a U-shaped curve that reflects the quality of eating habits among the Canadian population,” said L’Abeé, lead researcher on the study in a post-event release.

“In early life, when parents have the most influence, the nutritional quality of foods that young children eat is generally quite good. Choices start to deteriorate in late childhood and are at their worst in adolescence, then start to improve as Canadians enter their late twenties and early thirties.”

Some key findings of the research include:

  • Thirty per cent of total calories are consumed from food and beverages not recommended in the Eating Well with Canada’s Food Guide

  • Most calories were consumed at home (88 per cent, 81 per cent and 83 per cent for children, adolescents and adults respectively)

  • For individuals who ate at locations other than home, on average 40 per cent of daily calories (about 1000 Kcal/day) were consumed at these locations

“The structure of eating today has drastically evolved,” said Perrotta of IPSOS Reid, according to the release. “Eating no longer centres around three daily meals. Instead, Canadians are grazing consistently throughout the day and we are seeing a greater deal of snacking earlier and more often.

“At its core, it is the food choices, healthy or not, that are being made during these key snacking moments that will impact the overall health of Canadians, rather than the frequency of snacking.”

“Eating is a foundation of our daily patterns, social interactions, and well-being. For something so integral to our lives, it’s not easy to know if our food choices contribute to healthy people and communities,” said Chesney, in the release. “Yet with growing evidence to support personalized nutrition, new consumer technologies that verify ingredient and food safety, and shifting demands for fresh and nutritious foods, we are at a pivotal moment of change. We have an opportunity to rethink how and what we eat now and for generations to come.”

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