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Top Food Trends from 2016

Top Food Trends from 2016
January 19, 2017

By Mary Wales, Communications Coordinator, Nutrition Resource Centre at OPHA

We’re fresh into 2017 already, but we thought we’d take the time to review and summarize five major food and nutrition trends and issues from the last year.

Canada’s Food Guide Gets a Makeover

Canada’s Food Guide has received much attention in the media, especially since its revision was announced. Having received its last makeover in 2007, Health Canada announced plans for updates to the food guide in October of 2016. During the announcement, Canada’s health minister pointed out how the recent decades in Canada have brought a range of “health concerns”–such as childhood obesity, hypertension, and diabetes—that are related to the way Canadians eat.  As part of the process, Health Canada held an online consultation with health professionals and everyday Canadians that closed December 8th, 2016. As next steps, Health Canada will present revised materials for further public input by mid-2017. 

Food & Nutrition Labelling  

Menu Labelling/ Ontario: Maybe you’ve noticed changes in Ontario restaurants recently: In 2016, the province’s Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care continued working on its Healthy Choices Menu Act, 2015, which came into effect on January 1st, 2017. Under the Act—the first of its kind in Canada—Ontario food service providers (restaurants, convenience stores, movie theatres, etc.) with 20 or more locations must include the number of calories for food and beverage items on their menus, tags and labels.

Food Labelling/ CanadaIn the fall of 2016, the Government of Canada announced changes to food and beverage labelling. The proposed changes will make the serving size and calorie information more noticeable, and a % Daily Value for sugar has been added for the first time. Many dietitians, including NRC staff, provided input regarding the nutrition facts table changes, for which the food industry has been given a five-year transition period.


Sugar Continues to Take the Heat

It’s no secret: sugar’s bad rap continues to grow. It was a focus of the proposed changes to the nutrition facts table and ingredient list in Canada, with some stakeholders wanting to see labelling amount of added sugars (versus total sugars), like in the U.S. and the U.K., on the new labels.

Meanwhile, sugar-sweetened beverages’ and soda’s reputation went downhill. In cities and jurisdictions south of the border, like San Francisco, Oakland and Philadelphia, ballot measures were voted in for the taxation of sugar-sweetened beverages. In the U.K, a soda levy is set to come into force in 2018.

In Canada, groups like Dietitians of Canada and the Heart and Stroke Foundation also announced their support for such measures (click here to read a Dietitians of Canada press release calling for a the taxation of sugar-sweetened beverages or here for a position statement by Canada’s Heart and Stroke Foundation). In Ontario, the Healthy Kids Community Challenge rolled out an initiative called “Water Does Wonders” to encourage children and youth to drink more water and less sugary beverages.


Sustainable Diets: A Burgeoning Trend

Other hot media topics last year fell under the umbrella of “sustainable diets.” In April of 2016, the Obama Administration launched a report arguing that climate change poses threats to human health. Meanwhile, the media featured many articles on plant-based eating and changing ways to grow our food, from urban agriculture to “greener” / more sustainable food production methods. Like recent years, food waste, which results in an estimated loss of $31 billion per year in Canada, remained a popular issue.

It’s been an interesting year with many changes that seem to have set the stage for improved eating and healthier diets in coming years—and we look forward to what’s next this year.


About the NRC

Operating under the Ontario Public Health Association, the Nutrition Resource Centre (NRC) is one of Ontario’s 14 health promotion centres. The NRC’s aim is to strengthen Ontario’s health promotion professionals by providing them with evidence-based nutrition and healthy eating tools, resources, consulting support, training and more.

The NRC sends out a daily “News In Brief” with a roundup of food and nutrition stories across Ontario, Canada and sometimes global media. Click here to sign up and subscribe today. 

Read more in today's "news in brief"