MONTREAL, Dec. 12, 2012 /CNW Telbec/ - Although Quebecers recognize that
they should eat healthier foods, most are unable to change their eating
habits. Consequently, agri-food industry companies have a vital role to
play in helping consumers improve their health. These are the two
central findings to emerge from a Melior-led consultation among
Quebecers and key players in health and nutrition on the first
anniversary of the Melior program.
Healthcare stakeholders: well-entrenched habits are hard to change...
Eating habits are often associated with health problems. To better
understand the perceptions of health professionals in this area, Ipsos
Marketing organized a Melior discussion group among nurses, as well as
six individual interviews with general practitioners. The main findings
are as follows:
Eating habits are increasingly on the radar of healthcare professionals
These health professionals do not perceive themselves as THE solution
Patients are the link between health and nutrition
Changes in eating habits are difficult for most patients
Nutrition labels are hard to understand
Improving health with better quality foods requires a concerted effort
from all stakeholders, including businesses
It is clear that while Quebecers recognize that they should eat better,
they are unable to change their eating habits. Furthermore, most
healthcare practitioners admit that they do not address preventive
nutrition in depth due to a lack of time and because they believe the
task is better suited to other stakeholders such as nutritionists.
According to one doctor surveyed : "The industry has a role to play and
must guide consumers toward making informed choices."
General public consult nutritional labels…mostly for calories
According to a survey conducted by Ipsos Marketing in October:
63 per cent of Quebecers read nutrition labels mainly to ascertain the
amount of calories in a product
Only 11 per cent of respondents consulted nutrition labels for sodium
content first, even though reducing the daily intake of sodium by 6
grams decreases deaths related to cardiovascular disease1 by 18 per cent
Most respondents, however, are open to consuming products with sodium
reduced and sugar reduced to minimize the negative impacts on their
health. Quebecers, for example, would consume reduced-sodium chips
(61%) and canned soup (61%) as well as reduced-sugar cereals (65%)
cream and frozen yogurt (60%).
"This snapshot confirms that most people know what is needed to improve
their health through better eating, but that changing behaviours is
often difficult. It also illustrates how the role of the food industry
in offering healthier products is vital to improving the health of
Quebecers," explained Annick Van Campenhout, CEO of The Council for
Food Progress Initiatives (CFPI), the organization that manages the
Melior program. "Retailer shelf space offers little room for expansion.
It's not just about adding new products; it's about making existing
products better. Improving existing products promotes better eating
without modifying consumer behaviours."
The Melior indicator: the progress of participating companies
After only a year in existence, five companies (Pacini, Commensal & Cie,
IGA, Nutrifrance and Compass Group) have already joined the program. In
France, by contrast, it took more than a year and a half before signing
the first company.
To promote program thoroughness, Melior launched the Melior Indicator, a
measurement tool that lets people follow the progress of companies
involved in this new form of social responsibility by visiting www.programmemelior.com/entreprises/indicateur-melior/. Today, for example, the Indicator shows that Pacini has already met
its commitment to offering whole wheat pasta.
"We are very proud to already have the involvement of five companies
from all sectors of the industry. The companies we met with are open to
the program and recognize that they have an important role to play. We
anticipate more companies joining the program in the coming weeks,"
concluded Ms. Van Campenhout.
Companies that participate in the Melior program have made voluntary
commitments to improve the nutritional value of their products.
The Melior program, from the Latin meliorare, meaning "to improve," is a
Quebec initiative aiming to stimulate food progress and to help improve
the food supply in Quebec. The Melior program is designed to help
agri-food industry members create charters of voluntary commitments
toward nutritional progress. Inspired by a similar model implemented in
France, it is the first initiative of its kind in North America and is
fully adapted to Quebec realities.
This initiative is made possible by the financial support of Québec en
1 World Action on Salt and Health (WASH)
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