PHIRN: Population Health Improvement Research Network

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Community-based Diet and Nutrition

Proper nutrition is essential to the growth and development of children and youth, as well as maintaining health in adulthood.  While the Canadian Food Guide suggests a minimum of five daily servings of vegetables and fruit, seven out of 10 children aged 4 to 8 and half of adults are not meeting this recommended minimum [Garriguet, 2004 14818 /id;Health Canada, 2011 14819 /id].  Over 25% of Canadians aged 31 to 50 get more than 35% of their total calories from fat, increasing their health risks, such increased BMI [Garriguet, 2004 14818 /id].  Since adults in the highest income households are more likely to eat prepared foods (i.e. fast food restaurants), adults in low and lower-middles income households are less likely than the highest income households to get more than 35% of their daily calories from fat [Garriguet, 2004 14818 /id]. Meanwhile, children and adolescents consumption patterns are not as closely associated with household income.

Evidence-Informed Decision Making

Evidence-informed decision making (EIDM) is accepted in Canada as necessary for the provision of effective health care services. The goal of the public health sector in Canada is to promote health and reduce the amount of disease, premature death, and pain and suffering in the population, through health promotion, disease and injury prevention, and health protection [3]. The effectiveness of public health services has direct implications for health system outcomes and expenditures, as the following example illustrates. In 2005, chronic diseases, such as cardiovascular disease (CVD), cancer, emphysema, and diabetes, accounted for 35 million deaths worldwide [4]; had been increasing steadily over the past two decades; and in 2002, the economic burden of CVD and cancer alone in Canada was $32.7 billion [5]. Overweight and physical inactivity, recognized risk factors for chronic diseases [6,7], have also risen steadily in the past two decades. Canadian data suggests a 10% decrease in sedentary behaviour would result in health savings of $150 million per year [8].

The growing incidence of chronic diseases has, in part, contributed to increased political and societal pressures to ensure public funds are allocated to the provision of services with known effectiveness. In other words, there is a call to action to ensure the programs and services implemented across the public health sector in Canada are effective, and that they will result in improved health outcomes for Canadians. The purpose of this commissioned work is to identify and summarize research findings on the effectiveness of population based interventions community-based diet and nutrition, which was identified as a priority topic area in the annual report of the Ontario Chief Medical Officer of Health to the legislative assembly.

Last Updated ( Saturday, 14 April 2012 08:50 )