The Evolution of Eating

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

We believe the food industry and other key stakeholders play an important role in helping Canadians improve their eating habits. And as a leader in the industry, we continue to innovate and reformulate our products to make them the best they can be. In order to do this, we need to understand where, when and how Canadians are eating.   

To help start the conversation, we invited thought-leaders in the nutrition arena to a symposium called The Evolution of Eating in Canada. During the event, we examined emerging trends in the Canadian diet and the way Canadians eat.

For the first time, The University of Toronto presented an in-depth look at a study designed to understand the nutrition and dietary patterns of Canadians. Based on the latest Canadian Community Health Survey (CCHS) consumption data, the study found that the diet quality of Canadians is ‘poor’. That’s why the symposium set out to address Canada’s nutritional landscape and provide stakeholders with knowledge to improve their eating habits. 

“In our study, we saw a U-shaped curve that reflects the quality of eating habits among the Canadian population,” said Mary R. L’Abeé, PhD, Earl W. McHenry Professor and Chair, Department of Nutritional Sciences Faculty of Medicine, University of Toronto and Lead Research on the study. “In early life, when parents have the most influence, the nutritional quality of foods that young children eat is generally quite good. Choices start to deteriorate in late childhood and are at their worst in adolescence, then start to improve as Canadians enter their late twenties and early thirties.” 

Other key findings of the research include: 

• Thirty per cent of total calories are consumed from food and beverages not recommended in the Eating Well with Canada’s Food Guide (EWCFG)

• Snacking makes up to 25 per cent of the daily energy intake for children, and 23 per cent for adolescents. For these two groups, snacking contributed more calories than breakfast 

• Most calories were consumed at home (88 per cent, 81 per cent and 83 per cent for children, adolescents and adults respectively), however, for individuals who ate at locations other than home, on average 40 per cent of daily calories (about 1000 Kcal/day) were consumed at these locations. 

“Understanding more about what Canadians are eating is essential for us as we continue to reformulate and improve our products and help Canadians make informed food choices,” said Shelley Martin, President & CEO, Nestlé Canada. 

Case in point, we’ve made some fundamental changes to our packaging. We have committed to having portion guidance on the packaging of all ‘kids and family’ products to help you make informed food choices as a part of a balanced diet for yourself and your family. This is why, by the end of the year, we will include nutritional information on the front of the packages of key products, to provide instant access to the nutrition of what people are buying and eating.

But packaging is only half the battle. By the end of the year, we will have reduced sodium, sugar, and saturated fat in our products by 10%. And that’s just a start. 

We never stop trying to improve, because how we eat is constantly evolving. This is one more way we are delivering on our Good Food, Good Life philosophy.