Nav: Home

Canadian food and beverage companies get mixed grades on nutrition goals: U of T report

March 20, 2019

Canada's largest food and beverage manufacturers could aim higher to improve nutrition, reduce obesity and prevent chronic disease, according to a new report by University of Toronto researchers.

The study is the first to evaluate Canada's biggest food and beverage companies based on their policies and commitments to sell healthier products.

The report shows that while many companies are making meaningful commitments to improve the Canadian food environment -- through targets to reduce sodium, sugar and saturated fat in products and by restricting advertising of less healthy products to children, for example -- there is much variability among companies.

"We see considerable leadership from some companies that have embedded population nutrition and obesity in their policy approaches and strategies," says Lana Vanderlee, a postdoctoral fellow who co-led the study with Mary L'Abbé, a professor of nutritional sciences at U of T. "But it's not the case across all companies, and no single company demonstrated strong commitments in all the areas we examined."

The researchers assessed 22 companies, half of which provided data or clarification on their policies. Study criteria did not include the healthfulness of specific products and focused largely on corporate leadership, best practices and areas of potential improvement. Nestlé was the highest rated company with a score of 60 out of 100 possible points; Sun-Rype and Agropur tied for the lowest score at four points.

Overall, companies scored highest for their corporate strategies, by acknowledging obesity and nutrition commitments and efforts in their strategies, missions and visions. Almost no companies had policies related to making healthier products more readily available and at a better price point, and many fared poorly on front-of-package labelling.

The study also looked at corporate transparency. "We found that most companies report the philanthropic causes and foundations to which they contribute, but far fewer publicly share their positions related to government policies, or their political donations and research funding," says Vanderlee, who is now based at the University of Waterloo. "Given the history of industry involvement in the policy process, and ongoing private-public partnerships in research, transparency in these areas is essential."

Overall, says Vanderlee, the report highlights the important role the food and beverage industry can play in controlling obesity and reducing diet-related chronic diseases -- and the need for future research to monitor industry efforts, especially when it comes to acting on good intentions.

And given that not all companies are committed to healthier practices, Vanderlee says, government policies clearly have a role. "The Canadian government has introduced the Healthy Eating Strategy to address some of these key aspects of our food environment. Time will tell how companies react to these changes, but industry needs to be part of the solution if we want to see tangible improvements in Canadian diets."
-end-
The study is available online at http://www.labbelab.utoronto.ca/BIA-Obesity-Canada-2019.

University of Toronto

Related Obesity Articles:

Should obesity be recognized as a disease?
With obesity now affecting almost a third (29%) of the population in England, and expected to rise to 35% by 2030, should we now recognize it as a disease?
Is obesity associated with risk of pediatric MS?
A single-center study of 453 children in Germany with multiple sclerosis (MS) investigated the association of obesity with pediatric MS risk and with the response of first-line therapy in children with MS.
Women with obesity prior to conception are more likely to have children with obesity
A systematic review and meta-analysis identified significantly increased odds of child obesity when mothers have obesity before conception, according to a study published June 11, 2019 in the open-access journal PLOS Medicine by Nicola Heslehurst of Newcastle University in the UK, and colleagues.
Obesity medicine association announces major updates to its adult obesity algorithm
The Obesity Medicine Association (OMA) announced the immediate availability of the 2019 OMA Adult Obesity Algorithm, with new information for clinicians including the relationship between Obesity and Cardiovascular Disease, Diabetes Mellitus, Dyslipidemia, and Cancer; information on investigational Anti-Obesity Pharmacotherapy; treatments for Lipodystrophy; and Pharmacokinetics and Obesity.
Systematic review shows risk of a child developing overweight or obesity is more than trebled by maternal obesity prior to pregnancy
New research presented at this year's European Congress on Obesity (ECO) in Glasgow, Scotland (April 28- May 1) reveals that the risk of a child becoming overweight or obese is more than trebled by maternal obesity prior to getting pregnant.
More Obesity News and Obesity Current Events

Best Science Podcasts 2019

We have hand picked the best science podcasts for 2019. Sit back and enjoy new science podcasts updated daily from your favorite science news services and scientists.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Rethinking Anger
Anger is universal and complex: it can be quiet, festering, justified, vengeful, and destructive. This hour, TED speakers explore the many sides of anger, why we need it, and who's allowed to feel it. Guests include psychologists Ryan Martin and Russell Kolts, writer Soraya Chemaly, former talk radio host Lisa Fritsch, and business professor Dan Moshavi.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#537 Science Journalism, Hold the Hype
Everyone's seen a piece of science getting over-exaggerated in the media. Most people would be quick to blame journalists and big media for getting in wrong. In many cases, you'd be right. But there's other sources of hype in science journalism. and one of them can be found in the humble, and little-known press release. We're talking with Chris Chambers about doing science about science journalism, and where the hype creeps in. Related links: The association between exaggeration in health related science news and academic press releases: retrospective observational study Claims of causality in health news: a randomised trial This...