Canada is making healthy eating great again

Health Minister Jane Philpott satisfies appetite for improved nutrition policy

MONTREAL, Oct. 24, 2016 /CNW/ - The Heart and Stroke Foundation is enthusiastic about the federal government's launch of a comprehensive healthy living strategy as announced today by Health Minister Jane Philpott at Canadian Cardiovascular Congress. Once implemented, the strategy will help create the environment needed to support Canadians to make healthy choices for themselves and their families.  

"The healthy living strategy announced today will have a real impact on protecting the health of Canadian families," says Mary Lewis, VP Research, Advocacy and Health Promotion, Heart and Stroke Foundation. "We applaud the federal government on its commitment to Canadians' health. Heart & Stroke and other health organizations have been working hard for years to help improve the nutrition landscape and increase tobacco control, and we look forward to ongoing consultations. We are happy to see so many key public health priorities reflected in the strategy, including making the Food Guide more digestible for Canadians."

The wide-ranging strategy will tackle a variety of measures including commitments on trans fats; front-of-pack food labelling related to sodium and sugars; restricting marketing to children; revisions to the Canada's Food Guide; a menthol prohibition for all tobacco products; vaping regulations; plain packaging of tobacco products; and more.

Healthy public policy can play a significant role in improving the health of Canadians. These policies will help give our children the best start and support all Canadians to adopt the behaviours necessary to live long healthy lives.

As co-chairs with Health Canada of the original trans fat task force, the Foundation is especially pleased to see regulations forthcoming to prohibit artificially produced trans fats in our foods and restaurants. This is important because although we have made great progress, there are still high levels of trans fats in baked products and foods often consumed by children.

Front-of-pack labels on products high in sugar and sodium will help Canadians make better decisions in the grocery store. Canadians consume too much sodium – 77 per cent of which comes from processed foods. High sugar consumption is linked to cardiovascular and other chronic disease and Canadians are getting too much of the sweet stuff on a daily basis. Sugary drinks are the single greatest contributor of sugar in our diets; one can of pop or juice contains close to the recommended daily maximum. Front-of-pack warning labels will assist consumers to identify products high in sodium and sugar.

The Foundation is also very pleased to see the government's commitment to act on the marketing of unhealthy food and beverages to children.  Food and beverage marketing works, it greatly influences a child's food and drink choices. The majority of food and beverage products marketed to children (as much as 90%) are high in salt, fat or sugar. Restricting commercial marketing of all foods and beverages to children will help protect them from harmful industry tactics and support parents to make healthy choices for their families.

"We applaud the government of Canada for its leadership in placing restrictions on marketing of unhealthy foods and beverages to children," says Manuel Arango, Director of Health Policy and Advocacy, Heart and Stroke Foundation. "We look forward to participating in Marketing to Kids consultations and will continue to work with Minister Philpott and the Federal Government to ensure these restrictions are evidence based, strongly regulated and a have minimal phase-in period."

The Heart and Stroke Foundation also welcomes the changes related to tobacco: "These tobacco measures are a breath of fresh air," says Arango. "Too many Canadians are still dying from tobacco use. Plain packaging will eliminate the last important means‎ of marketing tobacco products."

"This is a positive step and we commend the Health Minister's commitment," says Lewis. "We look forward to working with the government to put the strategy into action as quickly as possible."

The Heart and Stroke Foundation's mission is to prevent disease, save lives and promote recovery. A volunteer-based health charity, we strive to tangibly improve the health of every Canadian family, every day. Healthy lives free of heart disease and stroke. Together we will make it happen. heartandstroke.ca

SOURCE Heart and Stroke Foundation

For further information: Jane-Diane Fraser, Heart and Stroke Foundation, jfraser@hsf.ca, 613 406 3282


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