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Canadian eating habits still leave much to be desired

Published on October 21, 2014 at 14:41 / Updated on April 10, 2019 at 14:17

There still needs to be much awareness-raising before the majority of Canadians have a balanced diet… According to a Canada-wide survey that asked more than 35,000 people to list what they had eaten during the 24 hours before they were interviewed, Canadians eat too much fat and not enough fruit and vegetables.

Over one-quarter of Canadians aged 31 to 50 get more than 35% of their total calories from fat. This is the threshold beyond which health risks increase, particularly relating to the cardiovascular system. The fat Canadians consumed generally came from a relatively small number of foods. For example, the “sandwich” category alone accounted for 15.9% of fat intake. This category includes pizza, sandwiches, submarines, hamburgers and hot dogs. Sweet baked goods, such as cookies and doughnuts, accounted for 8.5% of fat. Replacing these foods with leaner products could reduce fat intake considerably.

Canadians of all ages get more than one-fifth of their calories from “other foods” (food and beverages that are not part of the four major groups). Sweets and treats therefore account for a major proportion of calorie intake, but they have poor nutritional value. Many Canadians got more calories from snacks than they did from breakfast, and a substantial proportion skipped breakfast altogether. This could also explain the number of calories from “other foods”, which are readily available for snacks...

The survey also shows that more than one-third of children aged four to nine consume less than the recommended two servings of milk products a day. By ages 10 to 16, about 61% of boys and 83% of girls did not meet the recommended daily minimum of three servings, despite the fact that they are at a crucial period for bone formation.

Overall, one-quarter of Canadians reported that on the day before their interview they had consumed foods prepared in a fast-food outlet. Men aged 19 to 30 were the most likely to have eaten this type of food, as 39% had done so on the day in question.

Canadians have similar eating habits from coast to coast. Quebec stands out for its greater proportion of residents that have at least five daily servings of fruit and vegetables, i.e. 49% of children and adolescents and 63% of adults. Quebecers also get a relatively small proportion of their calories from snacks and eat less food prepared in fast-food outlets.

Want to improve your eating habits? Consult Canada’s Food Guide, it’s an essential reference tool!

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