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Health

New federal food guide may be ‘out of reach’ for most Canadians:report

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The fruit-and-vegetable-heavy fare touted in the new federal food guide may be too expensive — or perhaps just not enticing enough — to easily form the basis of most Canadians’ diets, a new report suggests.

Researchers at Dalhousie University and the University of Guelph found over 52 per cent of consumers surveyed said they face barriers in adopting the guide’s recommendations.

More than 26 per cent of people cited affordability, with others blaming taste preferences, lack of free time, dietary and cultural restrictions and a lack of availability in their area.

The survey generally found a lack of reliance on Canada’s Food Guide for advice, though 74 per cent of respondents were aware of its 2019 upgrade.

The guide ranked as the sixth most popular source of nutrition information among respondents, following friends and family, social media, magazines and cookbooks.

“I would say that many Canadians are struggling with the concept of how the food guide, the plate they see on the pamphlet, connects with their own reality and frankly, Canadian agriculture,” said Sylvain Charlebois, a food researcher at Dalhousie and lead author on the report.

“It’s great to celebrate this ideal but if it’s out of reach, if many Canadians feel it’s out of reach, how good is it?”

Using a series of test plates, researchers found that switching from the 2007 food guide to the 2019 upgrade would save an average Canadian family of four 6.8 per cent on annual food costs.

But that number is not predicted to stay stable.

The report cautioned that Canadians’ rapidly changing diets, fluctuating food costs and availability of produce could make the new recommendations less affordable over the next few years.

The number of vegans, vegetarians and “flexitarians” — people consciously eating less meat — is on the rise in Canada, now totalling at around 6.5 million people, a group roughly the same size as the population of the Greater Toronto Area.

The report detailed how fruit and vegetable prices are increasing faster than the price of meats.

If the trend continues as more people cut meat from their diets and turn to plant-based proteins, demand for and price of fruits and vegetables could increase further. That could price people out of the food guide’s suggested diet.

While a lot can change in the world economy over two years, Charlebois said the projections spell trouble for future food security in Canada, where most produce is imported and prices fluctuate.

“Over time, we do believe that there’s going to be an increasing number of Canadian households that will become food insecure, if they are to follow the new food guide,” Charlebois said.

Health Canada said the department welcomes the researchers’ study and is currently reviewing it.

It said Canadians had complained they had trouble following the recommended servings and sizes in the previous guide, and that the cost of food was considered in the revision.

“This is why the new Food Guide is less prescriptive — talking about proportions rather than portions — and its recommendations can be adapted to different dietary preferences,” it said in a statement.

It also noted the guide is just one of many components of approaching healthy eating.

“The findings of the study could potentially help inform our efforts to promote broad awareness and use of the Food Guide among Canadians,” it said.

Charlebois said the science-based guide should be reviewed more frequently, drawing from the expertise of economists, sociologists and historians to better reflect the realities people face when building their diets.

Working with the agriculture sector is also important, Charlebois said, in order to assess whether Canada’s production capacity lines up with what the food guide recommends people eat.

Holly McKenzie-Sutter, The Canadian Press



Community

Edmonton community members explore using the Emergency Room as an entry point to transitional housing

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Is there a better way than simply releasing a person experiencing homelessness from the hospital back onto the street? It creates an endless cycle of emergency room visits and escalating costs, not to mention the challenges the patients face in having a successful recovery.

As we continue to look for solutions to homelessness in our city, a group of community members from different fields and backgrounds met recently to brainstorm and discuss alternatives to the practice of releasing patients into a state of homelessness.

That’s a long way of saying that if someone experiencing homelessness comes to an emergency room with a need for medical aid, the only alternative once treated is to release the patient back onto the street.  The chances of recovery are greatly diminished, while the probability of return visits increases.  The costs are severe, both to the person experiencing homelessness and to our ever-more expensive health care system.

Spearheading the initiative is Dr. Louis Hugo Francescutti, a veteran emergency room physician at the Royal Alexandra Hospital and a Professor at the School of Public Health at the University of Alberta.

Watch this short video to hear from some of those involved and to better understand the concept and learn why there is a growing groundswell of support for this idea.

 

There are many ways that people can get involved with this initiative.  It’s common sense that housing and health are interconnected. Finding solutions to chronic homelessness and easing pressure on our health care system is something we can all get behind.

Please contact Dr. Louis Hugo Francescutti directly to learn more about the project and how you can help:

Phone 780.932-7187

lfrances@ualberta.ca

 

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Community

Canada’s First Female Astronaut coming to Red Deer for Health Fundraiser

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From the Red Deer Regional Health Foundation

The world’s first neurologist in space is coming to Red Deer

The Red Deer Hospital fundraiser also features comedians from CBC Radio’s “The Debaters”

Red Deer Regional Health Foundation is pleased to announce a new event, The Lunch Box Experience, featuring three of Canada’s brightest stars, all coming together over lunch to raise funds for critical equipment for Red Deer Regional Hospital Centre.

Dr. Roberta Bondar, Canada’s first female astronaut and first neurologist in space, will be the keynote speaker on Monday, September 23, 2019 at Cambridge Red Deer Hotel & Conference Centre.  To motivate and inspire audiences, Dr. Bondar draws on her remarkable depth of expertise as an astronaut, physician, scientific researcher, author, and leader.

This is Dr. Bondar’s first visit to Central Alberta, and may be your only chance to experience this extraordinary woman in person.

 

Also performing are Erica Sigurdson and Dave Hemstad, comedians both regularly featured on CBC Radio’s smash hit The Debaters.  After lunch you’ll enjoy hysterical standup from both Erica and Dave, plus an episode of witty debater-style banter that will have you in stitches!

Tickets are $125 per person or table of 6 for $700; includes a unique lunch and are available now.

The Lunch Box Experience, formally part of the Red Deer Festival of Trees event line-up (Festival Business Lunch) is a fresh, new business networking opportunity.

Proceeds from this event will go towards ceiling-mounted patient lifts at Red Deer Regional Hospital Centre.

For more information, tickets, or sponsorship opportunities, please visit

The Lunch Box Experience:  A Red Deer Hospital Fundraiser

WHEN:     Monday, September 23, 2019

11:00am – 1:30pm

Cambridge Red Deer Hotel & Conference Centre

 

 

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