A new report indicates that Alberta’s performance is middle of the road on 41 indicators of healthy food environments and nutrition for children and youth.
Professor Kim Raine with the School of Public Health is an expert in obesity and nutrition. Raine is a co-lead of POWER UP!, a research and policy group at the school. POWER UP! has just released the first-ever Report Card on Healthy Food Environments and Nutrition for Children and Youth in Alberta.
Nearly one-third of Canadian children between the ages of five and 17 years were classified as overweight or obese between 2009 and 2011. These numbers have been on the rise since the 1970s. Healthy food environments and nutrition are of utmost importance for Canadian children and youth.
“The POWER UP! Report Card is designed to provide a snapshot of whether Alberta is making the healthy choice the easy choice for children and youth,” explains Raine. “It is meant to be a tool and a resource for everyone from parents to government.”
The Report Card assesses Alberta’s performance on 41 indicators in four key environments:
• Physical environment – availability of food and different types of food
• Communication – marketing and advertising of food products
• Economic considerations – pricing and cost of foods
• Social climate – attitudes and beliefs about food
The Report Card also considers the wider political context that provides support to actions in the four key environments. Alberta received the following key grades:
• A- in Foods with Healthy Nutrient Profiles
• B+ in Reducing Childhood Food Insecurity
• C in Adequate Funding of Childhood Health Promotion
• C in Food Availability in School Settings
• C in Restrictions on Marketing Unhealthy Foods to Children
“We have more work to do to make the healthy choice the easy choice for Alberta’s children and youth,” says Raine. “We can do better. The Report Card can show us where and how.”