Health and environmental groups join forces to tackle unhealthy diets

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Food Secure Canada and Dr. Norman Campbell, HSF/CIHR Chair of Hypertension Prevention and Control, have teamed up to produce a Food and Nutrition Fact Sheet for policy-makers calling for action on the leading risk Canadians’ health and well-being – unhealthy diets.

Unhealthy diets cause heart disease, stroke, hypertension, diabetes, obesity, high cholesterol, mental disorders and up to 40 per cent of cancers.

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Health care currently comprises more than 35 per cent of provincial budgets and its costs are rising. This trend threatens the sustainability of public health care in Canada.

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Yet Canadian health promotion practices currently focus on individual nutrition education, which is important but ineffective on its own. And rising food prices, which particularly impact the costs for fresh fruits and vegetables, will only exacerbate unhealthy eating trends and increase food insecurity. It’s time to connect the dots between health, agriculture, poverty reduction and environmental issues. Healthy eating and sustainability can both be achieved by shifting diets to foods that are locally and sustainably produced with an increased consumption of plant-based foods, and a reduced consumption of meat and processed foods.

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We need government policies and programs that take a food systems approach as part of the #recipe4health

For healthier kids

  • Restricting the commercial marketing of all foods and beverages to children and youth age 16 years or under #Recipe4Health
  • Develop a National School Food program to ensure that all school children have healthy meals every day #Recipe4Health


For a healthier healthcare system

  • Regulate additions of sodium, free sugars, saturated fats and trans fatty acids in processed foods  #Recipe4Health
  • Develop healthy food and beverage procurement policies for healthcare, campus and schools to ensure they serve is fresh (locally grown wherever possible) and promotes healthy eating #Recipe4Health

Government needs to urgently invest in programs and policies for health promotion that take a food systems approach to address unhealthy diets.


Get involved by sharing your support for the #Recipe4Health with your networks

An open letter to Minister Jane Philpott was sent on January 13, 2013 to introduce the Food and Nutrition Fact Sheet and to request a meeting with Minister Philpott and her counterparts in stakeholder ministries to discuss urgent action on the highest-priority items, including sodium/trans fat reduction and marketing to kids.

A joint press release was also issued today, underscoring the importance of urgent action on healthy food.

As Health Ministers from across the country prepare their meeting in Vancouver on 20-21 January, we believe there is an extraordinary opportunity to tackle food as part of the recipe for a healthy Canada, but unhealthy diets are not currently on the agenda. Now is the time to act.

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