Monday, October 31, 2016

Why Will It Take Health Canada 5-10 Years to Clean Up Nutrition?

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In case you missed it, last week the Honourable Dr. Jane Philpott, Canada's Minister of Health, announced that changes were afoot to nutrition in Canada.

On the menu?
  • A much needed revision for Canada's Food Guide
  • A ban on the advertising of food to children
  • A front-of-package labeling program designed to help consumers better navigate the grocery store
  • A ban on trans-fats (something promised by a former Minister of Health back in 2007)
  • A nutrition facts panel that included information on added sugars
None of this is surprising - both from an evidence based perspective, and from a mandate perspective, as in his mandate letter to Dr. Philpott, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau made it clear, these were matters he wanted addressed calling for,
"introducing new restrictions on the commercial marketing of unhealthy food and beverages to children, similar to those now in place in Quebec; bringing in tougher regulations to eliminate trans fats and to reduce salt in processed foods, similar to those in the United States; and improving food labels to give more information on added sugars and artificial dyes in processed foods."
What is surprising though is the announced timeline of 5-10 years to implement.

I can't wrap my head around that.

While clearly change doesn't happen overnight, I can't come up with a plausible explanation for why Canadians will be forced to wait for up to a full decade for these changes as: It's also worth noting that in Canada, a government's mandate's duration is four years and as of this Friday, the first of them is done.

Having had the pleasure and honour of meeting with Dr. Philpott in the past, I am very comfortable stating my belief that if she were able, these changes would occur far faster than the timeline she's laid out. Which leads me to assert, admittedly without proof, that the food industry lobby in Canada is far more influential than anyone would believe.

[For more on this, definitely have a peek at the award winning journalist Holly Doan's terrific CPAC piece on this government's mandate regarding obesity (disclosure - I'm in it). To watch the video when you get to the link, click the language button below the video to get it rolling as clicking the arrow doesn't do it]