Backgrounder Article from  Health Canada

Revision of Canada's Food Guide

On October 24, Health Canada launched a process to revise Canada's Food Guide to reflect the latest scientific evidence and to better support Canadians in making healthy food choices. 

Canada's Food Guide

Health Canada develops and promotes evidence-based dietary guidance, which is communicated through the Food Guide and other documents. The Guide provides detailed advice on the amounts and types of foods to eat for good health. It also provides advice on limiting foods and beverages high in calories, fat, sugars and sodium.

The Food Guide was last updated in 2007. To date, more than 30 million print copies have been distributed, and 2 million copies accessed online.

Traditionally, it has been an all-in-one policy and education tool used by health professionals, governments and other stakeholders to support individuals, set guidelines and policies for various settings such as schools and daycares, and develop nutrition education initiatives.

As part of its revision of the Guide, Health Canada will update its version of the Food Guide for First Nations, Inuit and Métis.

Strengthening healthy eating advice

Through a recent evidence review, Health Canada determined that the Food Guide needs to be revised to strengthen healthy eating recommendations, address new scientific evidence, and ensure that it continues to be relevant to Canadians.

New scientific evidence

During the evidence review, Health Canada found that much of the science on which the Food Guide is based is consistent with the latest evidence on diet and health. However, we need to strengthen how we communicate our advice. Here are some examples of important messages we want to communicate to Canadians:

  • Replacing saturated fat with unsaturated fat is linked to a lower risk of cardiovascular disease.
  • A higher intake of sugar-sweetened beverages is linked to an increased risk of obesity in children.

Eating habits

  • The evidence review also found that Canadians are not making healthy eating choices:
    • Canadians are not eating enough vegetables, fruits, whole grains, milk and alternatives.
    • About 30% of calories come from foods that are high in fat, sugars and sodium.
    • Certain nutrients are widely under-consumed (e.g., calcium and fibre).

Use of the Food Guide

  • The Food Guide is not meeting the needs of all audiences:
    • While most Canadians are aware of the Food Guide, and it is well integrated into health and nutrition policies and programs, health professionals report that Canadians find it hard to interpret and apply the advice in their daily lives.
    • An all-in-one tool doesn't work for everyone. Some stakeholders want more detail, while others want only simple information.

The revision process

Health Canada will revise the Food Guide using the following approach:

Consulting with Canadians and stakeholders about dietary guidance needs (2016-17)

  • Health Canada is undertaking an initial 45-day consultation with Canadians and stakeholders. The consultation runs from October 24 to December 8, 2016. Input received will be used to develop new dietary guidance tools that better meet the needs of different audiences.

Consulting on policy and testing of new consumer tools (2017-18)

  • Health Canada will host open consultations, public opinion research, and usability testing to solicit feedback from stakeholders and the general public on new policy products and education tools that will be developed following the initial consultation.

Release of updated dietary guidance (2017-18 and 2018-19)

  • Health Canada will release its new dietary guidance, updated healthy eating patterns and supporting tools geared towards policy makers, health professionals, and the general public.

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