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Thursday, 16 May 2013

Food swamps and deserts in Canada – a food environment assessment hidden from public view.

Health Canada released (or perhaps didn’t release) a very well written treatise on Measuring the Food Environment in Canada.  The publication states it will posted at Health Canada’s  Nutrition Policy website and it is not there yet, hopefully delayed only in processes like translation.

However, the kind readers who forwarded to me, suggested that it will not be posted and perhaps the contents provide some indication.  They take full aim at food swamps.   Food swamps are areas where there is an over abundance of high-fat high-calorie foods and often associated with lower socio-economic areas of communities.  Translated, the major fast food chains congregate in poorer areas of town, and one might expect that these food chains will have a strong voice of objection to the report. The Harper government has already buckled several times to food industry pressure. 

The other key findings, none of which are a surprise:

o   Most of the Canadian literature published to date shows associations between features of the food environment and residents’ diet-related outcomes, even after adjusting for important confounding variables.
o   Food deserts appear to exist based on already performed food environment assessments.  These are areas where residents may find it difficult to obtain quality food options. 
o   There is insufficient information on food environments in northern Canada.

If you are interested in obtaining a copy, use the link about and go to Publications and request the document directly. Enough demand may stimulate its release. (Health Canada is indicating they are in a website revision)  If you are having problems, contact drphealth@gmail.com and a copy will be sent to you.

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