Laval University education | Canadians don’t eat better than Americans

(Montreal) Canadians don’t eat better than Americans, warns a new study led by a researcher from Laval University.

The official explained that the findings are “a bit of a wake-up call” for Canadians who have been comforting themselves by thinking that their diet, if not perfect, is at least of better quality than that of their neighbors to the south. research, Michelle Lucas.

“You have to wake up at some point,” said Mr. Lucas, a professor at the Université Laval Faculty of Medicine and a researcher at the CHU de Québec-Université Laval Research Center. Food quality is the number one killer in chronic disease. »

Studies using the Canadians’ Diet Quality Index, which reflects the overall quality of food choices relative to Canadians’ Food Guide recommendations, have previously concluded that the quality of Canadians’ diets is about 20 percentage points higher than that of Americans.

Professor Lucas and his colleagues instead used the Alternative Food Quality Index, which is commonly used in the United States. The researchers analyzed data from the 2004 and 2015 Canadian Community Health Surveys, which included 35,107 and 20,487 people, respectively.

In 2004, researchers found that the index was 36.5 out of 100 in Canada and 34.9 in the United States. The index in Canada was 39.0 in 2015, compared to 37.1 south of the border in 2010-2011.

The index in Canada shows a decrease of 20-30 points compared to the indicator calculated with the old index.

“It’s not the same note, it’s not the same score,” Mr. Lucas said. Admittedly, we’re a bit higher than what Americans can get, but it’s not one and a half or two times as much. We have two points between us. »

An alternative diet quality index, the press release explained, is calculated from data linking the consumption of certain foods to a lower or higher risk of disease or death.

Thus, it is positively associated with consumption of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, legumes, long-chain omega-3 fatty acids, and polyunsaturated fatty acids. On the other hand, it is negatively associated with the consumption of sugary drinks, fruit juices, red meat, cold food and salt.

The scale includes six positive components, such as fruit and vegetable consumption, and four negative components, such as meat and sausage consumption, Lucas said. Each tier is good for ten points, up to a hundred.

“The food problem, he said, is not necessarily what people eat, but more importantly what people don’t eat.”

Consumption of meat, deli and sugary drinks continues to improve, Mr Lucas continued, and that’s not really where the problem lies. “Things that people don’t have on their plates, which are vegetables, fruits, whole grains, nuts and legumes, and long-chain fatty acids from fish,” the researcher added, adding “moderate alcohol consumption” to the list.

In recent years, he added, both the United States and Canada have seen improvements in food quality, but only among the well-off and well-educated. Lucas said the less fortunate remained the same and “with food prices going up, I think it’s going to get worse.”

For this improvement to continue, he said, we need to stop thinking that we are all equal in the choices we make in terms of food.

“When you look at countries with higher food quality (than Canada), those are countries where vegetable consumption is part of the culinary tradition,” he said. But you need to develop these skills and the ability to act. We are not all equal in this matter. If you’re lucky enough to taste something done right and love it, it’s more than worth coming back for. »

In this regard, we find that immigrants in Canada have higher nutritional quality than non-immigrants because they often come from cultures where fruit and vegetable consumption is well-established, for example, Ms. Lucas added.

The results of this study were published in a scientific journal food items. Researchers from the universities of Sherbrooke and Montreal also collaborated.

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