“In the last year, Alberta’s grades have gotten significantly worse for children’s food
environments,” explains Kim Raine, professor in the School of Public Health.
Edmonton, AB – September 26, 2016 – The school year has just started, but the grades are already in for Alberta’s 2016 Nutrition Report Card on Food Environments for Children and Youth. When it comes to children’s food environments, Alberta has received a D for the 2016 period.
“In the last year, Alberta’s grades have gotten significantly worse for children’s food environments,” explains Kim Raine, professor in the School of Public Health at the University of Alberta. “Healthy eating is more than an individual choice and is influenced by our environments. Put simply, our province is barely passing when it comes to providing healthy food environments for children and
Of particular concern are physical environments, which refer to the types of foods and beverages available in different outlets, such as restaurants, supermarkets, schools, worksites and community sports and arts venues.
Alberta’s overall grade is a D, based on the following key performance indicators:
• D for food availability within community recreational facilities, including a high proportion of unhealthy foods in concessions and vending machines.
• D for neighbourhood access to unhealthy food stores, with over 75% of schools in Calgary and Edmonton having at least one convenience store or fast food restaurant within 500 metres. In 60% of neighbourhoods, there are at least 10 times as many food outlets selling primarily unhealthy products than those selling healthy ones.
• F for composition of children’s food, due to a high prevalence of children’s cereals with high sugar content and few whole grains.
Poor food environments are associated with lower diet quality among children. Poor diets can lead to health problems like overweight, obesity and diabetes, even among children. Since 1980, there has been a three-fold increase in the proportion of children with obesity in Canada.
“The time for action is now,” explains Raine. “The research shows that Alberta is not making the healthy choice the easy choice for children and youth. We can do better. The Report Card can show us where and how.”