Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Report Finds Poor Diet Remains Recipe for Disaster as Canadians Get Older: Canadians's Diet Recipe for Disaster

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Report Finds Poor Diet Remains Recipe for Disaster as Canadians Get Older: Canadians's Diet Recipe for Disaster

Article excerpt

OTTAWA - Canadians have made slight progress in the battle to combat chronic disease through diet choices even as the nation's children fall even further behind, a study from an independent think tank suggested Monday.

While adults have slowly reduced their intake of damaging fats and stepped up their fruit and vegetable consumption over the past two decades, researchers at the Conference Board of Canada found that children's eating habits have continually deteriorated over the same period.

Even among adults, dietary patterns haven't shifted enough to effectively ward off chronic conditions such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease and cancer, the board said.

Study lead researcher Daniel Munro said the board came to its conclusions by analyzing statistical data on food choices compiled over the past 20 to 30 years by agencies such as Statistics Canada and Health Canada.

Analyzing those trends, Munro said, paints a comprehensive picture of a population that isn't doing what it could to protect itself from chronic conditions.

"It's not the individual ingredients or individual foods that matter," Munro said in a telephone interview from Ottawa. "It's the long-term dietary patterns that affect the risk of chronic disease."

Canadians have been heeding some of the lessons science has spent the past few decades trying to teach, Munro said.

The study found that adults have slowly been increasing the number of fruits and vegetables they consume each day, with about half of Canadian women and 40 per cent of men currently eating the recommended minimum of five servings for day. Munro said Canadians have also made progress on reducing the number of trans fats in the average diet.

The national dietary vice, he said, appears to be sodium. Canadians consume an average of 3,400 milligrams per day, well above the maximum recommended amount of 2,300. Canada's processed food feeds the issue by containing more salt than its brand equivalents in the U.S., the study found.

Canadians also have a weakness for sugar and a tendency to overestimate their physical activity levels, the study suggested, adding that 62 per cent of Canadians were considered overweight or obese by 2008. …

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