Thursday, October 22, 2009

Overweight Canadian kids not eating enough according to Canada's Food Guide

So yesterday I detailed the results of the Ipsos Reid based milk advertisement that concluded, surprise, that Canadians should be drinking more milk, but buried in the story is the fact that the survey determined that Canadians were not eating enough of any food group according to Canada's Food Guide.

Let me repeat that. According to the survey, Canadians don't eat as much food as the Food Guide recommends.

But wait, aren't 65% of Canadians overweight? And they're not eating as much as the Food Guide thinks they should? I wonder what would happen to the remaining 35% if suddenly they did start eating what the Food Guide recommended.

I detailed ad nauseum (really, it was nauseating how much I detailed it) how the Food Guide causes weight gain - you can read those pieces by clicking here here, and here, but interestingly this is not the first time I've noticed studies or surveys that reported Canadians don't eat enough according to the Food Guide and that if you did you'd likely gain weight.

The first time I posted on a study published out of Nova Scotia whereby the vast majority of overweight and obese children didn't meet the daily recommended number of servings from the Food Guide.

Here's the second round of data. I received an email from a loyal blog reader named Dana. She attended a lecture put on by Dr. Lise Dubois who presented data from the Quebec birth cohort showing that showing the odds ratio for overweight was 8.8 for 4.5 year old children who consumed 4 grain servings/day. and 7.1 for those consuming 1 serving of meat per day.

Yet Canada's Food Guide recommends 4.5 year olds consume 4 servings of grain per day and 1 servings of meat (thanks for the correction commenters - I had looked at the milk column).

I emailed Dr. Dubois for comment some time ago, but never heard back from her but it would seem to me that according to her data if your 4.5 year old followed the Food Guide's recommendations to consume 4 servings of grain and 1 serving of meat that their risk of obesity would be markedly increased.

Great job Health Canada!

Here's a thought - maybe Food Guides shouldn't be recommending minimum patterns of consumption in a country where it is now abnormal to have a healthy body weight and where research has shown people don't know what serving sizes are?

Just a thought.

(BTW, I checked with Ipsos Reid - the way this survey was conducted was that people reported the quantities of food consumed and then dietitians calculated the number of Food Guide servings therefore you can't make the argument that in the survey Canadians just didn't know what a serving size wise, and while I can't claim it with certainty, I'd be very surprised if Dr. Dubois' research was any different in that I'm certain she knows what a Food Guide serving represents)

St John M, Durant M, Campagna PD, Rehman LA, Thompson AM, Wadsworth LA, & Murphy RJ (2008). Overweight Nova Scotia children and youth: the roles of household income and adherence to Canada's Food Guide to Healthy Eating. Canadian journal of public health. Revue canadienne de sante publique, 99 (4), 301-6 PMID: 18767276