Canadians need healthful, nutritious food to lead productive lives and reach our full potential, but unfortunately this is not the reality for many people.
Food insecurity is closely linked to income. Studies have shown that people in low-income neighbourhoods have less access to grocery stores and fresh foods and more access to fast-food restaurants. For low-income families, the cost of food represents a larger chunk of the household budget than it does for those with higher incomes.
Like physical activity, the ability to follow a healthy, nutritious diet is linked to the broader social determinants of health. For example, people who do not have a kitchen, who must walk a significant distance to a grocery store, or who work shifts, which requires shopping at unusual hours, face multiple stresses and priorities which make eating a healthy diet difficult.
Such systemic social and economic barriers to good nutrition can place people in an unhealthy trap— eating a poor diet increases a person's likelihood of developing chronic disease, which in turn often increases food insecurity.
As a society, we need to focus attention to how Canada can change some of the factors that affect many people's ability to eat a healthy diet and thus help prevent chronic disease and other health issues.
Where can you go for more information?
Health Nexus resources
Best Start Resource Centre has an extensive list of resources on nutrition topics for parents and young children.
Obesity and the Healthcare Provider. Eating & Moving Well to Prevent & Treat Obesity: Building our Capacity to Support Behavioural Change (PDF, 2009)
- Social determinants of health in Canada: Are healthy living initiatives there yet? A policy analysis. Dana Gore and Anita Kothari, International Journal for Equity in Health. (2012) A policy analysis of how economic and political policies can affect public health outcomes and what the health sector can do to promote greater health equity.
- Improving the Health of Canadians: Promoting Healthy Weights (Canadian Institute for Health Information, 2006) This report looks at the features of the environments in which we live, learn, work and play that make it easier - or harder - for us as Canadians to make choices that promote healthy weights.
- Household Food Insecurity, 2007-2008 (Statistics Canada, 2010) National data from the Canadian Community Health Survey (2207-2008) on household food insecurity, specifically focusing on the financial ability of households to access adequate food.
Associations between household food insecurity and health outcomes in the Aboriginal population (excluding reserves) (Statistics Canada, 2011)
Data from the 2004 Canadian Community Health Survey were used to examine the relationship between household food insecurity and self-reported health, well-being and health behaviours among adult Aboriginal respondents
- Nutrition Resource Centre
- FoodShare Toronto
- Food Security and Healthy Eating - Canadian Best Practices Portal
- Centre for Studies in Food Security - Ryerson University
- Sustain Ontario - Sustain Ontario has a list of food charters across Canada as well as many other resources and ideas for transforming Canada's food system.
- Eat Right Ontario
- Dietitians of Canada - Your Health
- Nutrition and Healthy Eating - Health Canada
- Eat Well Central - Healthy Canadians
- Food Secure Canada