Thursday, February 06, 2014

Does Canada's Food Guide Lead to Weight Gain? The Debate Videos are Live!

Last week I had the pleasure of debating Dr. Hasan Hutchinson, the Director General of Health Canada's Office of Nutrition Policy and Promotion (the folks in charge of the Food Guide). We were debating whether or not the Food Guide and its messaging might in fact lead folks who followed it to gain weight.

Rather than skew your viewing with commentary, I'll leave it to you to watch (and for the sake of watching ease it's split into logical chunks), but do want to once again thank and congratulate Health Canada for letting Dr. Hutchinson come out and play. Debate and discussion are the cornerstones of healthy dialogue and no doubt help to inform change, and while generally Health Canada has been loathe to allow their employees to speak candidly, this debate was a very welcome exception to that unfortunate rule.

(email subscribers - to watch these videos you'll need to click the underlined post title in the email or simply visit my blog)

[Huge thanks to David Baker the Founder of Live Fit Docs who despite his daughter being 3 days old, volunteered to come out and shoot the event. Huge thanks too to his VERY understanding wife! And of course thanks also to the CON-SNPs who organized the night.]


Hasan Hutchinson's Opening Arguments

Yoni Freedhoff's Opening Arguments

Hasan Hutchinson's Rebuttal

Yoni Freedhoff's Rebuttal

Hasan Hutchinson's & Yoni Freedhoff's Closing Remarks

Post Debate Q&A

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  1. Anonymous8:55 am

    Providing a brief summary of a video is an important service for those of us who have slow Internet connections, don't have the time to watch videos, or find that text is a far more convenient way to obtain information. I really wanted to hear what you had to say, but since the videos have crashed two different browsers I guess I won't.

  2. Anonymous2:33 pm

    So, what would be suggested as a food guidance system? One that doesn't meet the DRIs but includes typical Canadian habits? What is your gold standard?

  3. Anonymous3:06 am

    The topic of the debate was "Does Canada's Food Guide Promote Weight Gain?", but the title of this blog post is "Does Canada's Food Guide Lead to Weight Gain?". The title of the blog post is probably better than the title for the debate, as the word promote is often interpreted to mean "to support or actively encourage" whereas "leads to weight gain" is much more clear and what I think was intended. I'm hypothesizing that this might be why most of those in attendance did not seem to think the Food Guide promoted weight gain, as it seems to me that following it would lead to weight gain.

    Great debate though. It definitely brought up some issues that I wasn't aware of.

  4. Anonymous12:11 pm

    As a dietitian I enjoyed this debate. I agree with Dr. Freedhoff that a lower calorie amount should have been used for the modelling by subtracting some of the typical common "other" foods like condiments. The food guide has a lot of food on it because it is trying to meet 100% of the daily recommended amount for every nutrient. This is not very practical to achieve and can result in over food consumption. Like most dietitians if I am referring to the food guide with someone who is looking to lose weight I always explain that the servings are above a weight loss range for most people, and we customize from there.

  5. Anonymous8:26 pm

    I am a dietitian and I also enjoyed this debate. I think the evidence presented shows that CFG has the potential to promote weight gain if you are sedentary, not male, and not 19 - 30. I agree with Yoni that the food guide and labelling need to overhaulled to better meet the needs of the population. I also understand that this is very complicated because the Canadian population is very diverse in culture, economic stability, sex and age, just to name a few. It is easy to criticise the guide, much more difficult to produce one that works to meet so many needs.

    On Yoni's comments about industry. I do agree that industry should not be involved in producing CFG, and we all know how industry infiltrates all parts of our life. I wonder if Yoni has every accepted a meal, or been paid to speak at a conference by a pharmaceutical company? It is very difficult with today's health care budgets to do the research, and keep ourselves up to date without sponsorship from industry.