Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Bizarre Fail from Multiple Canadian Public Health Agencies

Thanks to a fellow Canadian MD for sharing this staggeringly horrible piece of public health advice that she found on a cafeteria table Toronto's St. Michael's hospital.

According to the directive,
"Choose 100% fruit juice. Otherwise you may be drinking mostly sugar and water!"
Perhaps someone from the Ontario Public Health Association, The Canadian Cancer Society, The Heart and Stroke Foundation, or Toronto Public Health would like to weigh in and explain what exactly people who drink 100% fruit juice will be consuming beyond mostly sugar and water? Honestly, I'd really love to know as I would have thought that contributing to the health halo of juice would not be in public health's best interest.

(Updates: An earlier version of this post had wrongly identified Eat Smart! as a Dietitians of Canada initiative rather than an OPHA initiative.

The Canadian Cancer Society has reached out to let me know that this is an old card that's somehow still floating around and that they no longer participate in the program and encourage reduced juice consumption

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  1. Lauri8:19 am

    Hmm, 248g of apple juice is 219 g water, 24 g sugar...I'd rather have the apple.

  2. Anonymous9:09 am

    I wonder if this table sign is old: its' my understanding that the Eat Smart isn't even a program anymore. Perhaps that's why the messaging is so out of date? (hopeful thinking?)

  3. Hey Yoni,

    Dietitians of Canada was not involved with this promotion.

    If you are interested, you can find some handouts that include our thoughts on sugary drinks. Regarding fruit juice:
    "100% unsweetened fruit juice is nutritious, but high in calories, natural sugar and acid that can harm the teeth. Limit intake to : 125ml (1/2 cup) for children and 250ml (1 cup) for teens and adults"

    I know--"Nutritious" is vague and debatable. As dietitians we would always recommend eating a piece of fruit than relying on juice for nourishment.

    Find handouts here:

    Kate Comeau MSc RD
    Dietitians of Canada

  4. The card pictured is from 1997 when the EatSmart program was initiated. While the Canadian Cancer Society no longer participates in the program, it is currently run by public health units across Ontario. We caution parents to limit their children’s juice consumption because of the calorie and sugar content.

    You can find more on our healthy eating guidelines here -

    On behalf of:
    John Atkinson
    Director, Tobacco Control & Cancer Control
    Canadian Cancer Society, Ontario Division

  5. D Papacosta2:12 pm

    About 30 years ago a doctor told me all the orange juice I was drinking daily (thinking it was good for me) was "junk food." I don't buy juice anymore, and eat fruit instead.

    Based on the food I've seen when visiting friends in hospitals, I'm not surprised at all by this sign.