Nutrition

Nutrition Data

Healthy eating involves consuming appropriate amounts and types of foods, limiting foods and beverages that are high in fat, sugar and salt, having access to healthy foods at affordable prices, and having the skills to select and prepare healthy and affordable meals. [1]

To learn more about healthy eating and ressources to support healthy eating in Ottawa, please consult Ottawa Public Health's Eating and Nutrition webpage.

Awareness and Use of Canada’s Food Guide

Eating Well with Canada’s Food Guide provides an evidence-informed guide to help Canadians follow a healthy diet, which incorporates variety and flexibility. It helps Canadians understand the type and quantity of required foods, as well as the benefits of eating well and being active. [2]

In Ottawa:

  • In 2015/16, 86% of residents (aged 12+ years) reported that they were aware of Canada’s Food Guide, with 59% of those reporting they have used the guide. Awareness varied by mother tongue language, with two-thirds (67%) of those with a mother tongue language other than English or French reporting they were aware of the guide compared to 94% of those with an English mother tongue and 96% of those with a French mother tongue. [3]
  • While awareness of Canada’s Food Guide was similar for males (85%) and females (87%), among those that were aware, females (68%) were more likely to report using it than males (49%). [3]
  • Among those who have used Canada’s Food Guide, almost half (46%) reported they have used it to assess how well they or their household were eating, 43% have used it to determine how much food to eat each day, 41% have used it to choose foods, and 34% have used it to plan meals or to help with grocery shopping. [3]

Consumption of Vegetables and Fruits

Eating Well with Canada’s Food Guide recommends, depending on age and sex, that teens and adults eat seven to ten servings of vegetables and fruits each day. It is also recommended that vegetables and fruits are served at all meals and as snacks. [2]

In Ottawa:

  • In 2017, 39% of students (Grades 7 to 12) ate vegetables and fruits less than three times daily. This is lower than students in the rest of Ontario (45%). [4]
    • Students in Grades 9 to 10 (38%) and 11 to 12 (46%) were more likely than students in Grades 7 to 8 (29%) to eat vegetables and fruits less than three times daily. [4]
  • One third (33%) of residents aged 12 years and older reported eating vegetables and fruits five times a day or more often, which was more than the rest of Ontario (27%). [3]
    • Females (40%) were more likely than males (26%) to report eating vegetables and fruits five times a day or more often. [3]

Fast Food and Eating Out

In Ottawa:

  • Overall, 92% of adults (aged 18+ years) reported that it was very or somewhat important to get nutritious food when choosing meals/snacks prepared outside the home in 2016. Post-secondary graduates (94%) were more likely to say that it was important to get nutritious food when choosing meals/snacks outside the home than other educational groups (no high school diploma: 84%, high school diploma or equivalent: 86%). [5]
  • Just over half of adults (52%) rarely (less than twice a week or never) go to a restaurant, order takeout, eat fast food, or pick up ready-to eat foods. Thirty-six percent of residents do theses activities frequently (three to six times a week) and twelve percent do these activities on an almost daily basis (seven or more times a week). [5]
    • Of these four eating activities, the most frequently reported (3 or more times per week) were going to a restaurant (13%) and consuming fast food (8%). [5]
    • Males (15%) were more likely than females (9%) to participate in these eating activities on an almost daily basis. [5]
    • Adults 18 to 29 years of age (20%) were more likely than older adults (11% of adults 30 to 44 years of age; 10% of adults 45 to 64 years of age; and 8% of adults over 64 years of age) to participate in these eating activities on an almost daily basis. [5]

Sugar-Sweetened Beverages

Sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs) include “soft drinks (soda or pop), fruit drinks, sports drinks, tea and coffee drinks, energy drinks, sweetened milks or milk alternatives, and any other beverages to which sugar has been added”. [6,7] Although sweetened milks and milk alternatives contain important nutrients and are nutritionally superior to soft drinks, adding sugar to milk and milk alternatives adds calories without improving the nutritional quality of the beverage. [2] Intake of SSBs is one of the dietary factors leading to increases in obesity and overweight rates and chronic disease in children and adults. [6,8-20]

Sugar-Sweetened Beverage Consumption

Youth

  • In 2017, 9% of Ottawa students (Grades 7 to 12) drank SSBs daily. This is similar to students in the rest of Ontario (11%). Students with low self-perceived socio-economic status (SES) (13%) were more likely than students with high self-perceived SES (7%) to drink SSBs daily. [4]
  • Three-quarters (75%) of Ottawa students (Grades 7 to 12) drank at least one SSB each week, which is lower than students in the rest of Ontario (80%). [4]
  • More than one in ten (12%) Ottawa students (Grades 7 to 12) had consumed at least one energy drink in the week prior to the survey. [4]

Adults

  • In 2015, 27% of Ottawa adults (aged 18+ years) drank SSBs daily. The same rate of SSB consumption was reported for adults with children in the home. [5]
  • Young adults aged 18 to 24 years were more likely to drink SSBs daily (41%) than any other age group (25 to 44 years: 27%, 45 to 64 years: 23%, 65+ years: 21%). [21]
  • The top three SSBs consumed on a daily basis by Ottawa residents were [21]: 
    • chocolate milk/other flavoured milks/milk alternatives (10%),
    • regular pop (9%), and
    • hot chocolate/sweetened specialty coffee or tea (8%).
  • The top three SSBs consumed at least once a week by Ottawa residents were [21]:
    • regular pop (39%),
    • hot chocolate/sweetened specialty coffee or tea (36%), and
    • chocolate milk/other flavoured milks/milk alternatives (29%).

Public Opinion on Sugar-Sweetened Beverages

In Ottawa:

  • Overall, 69% of adults (aged 18+ years) identified at least one type of SSB as a healthy drink (i.e., vitamin water, sports drinks, energy drinks, chocolate milk, flavoured milk or milk alternatives, fruit flavoured drinks)(Figure 1).
  • High school graduates were more likely to identify at least one type of SSB as a healthy drink (80%) than either adults with no high school education (57%) or post-secondary graduates (67%). It is important to note, however, that public opinion on the healthiness of SSBs varied greatly by type of SSB (Figure 1).
  • Ninety-four percent of residents believe that drinking SSBs can have an effect on someone’s health. The most often reported SSB health effects were weight gain/overweight/obesity (74%) and diabetes/high blood sugar (54%) (Figure 2).

Figure 1. Public opinion on the healthiness of sugar-sweetened beverages in Ottawa, 2017

Bar chart of public opinion on the healthiness of sugar-sweetened beverages in Ottawa, 2017

 Data Source and Notes for Figure 1

Ottawa Public Health. Rapid Risk Factor Surveillance System, 2017.

  • The Rapid Risk Factor Surveillance System (RRFSS) is an ongoing random-digit dialed telephone (landline and cell) population health survey of Ottawa adults aged 18 years and older. 
  • *Interpret with caution – high sampling variability.
  • NR=Data are not reportable because results are unreliable.
  • Maybe/Depends = maybe / depends / depends on brand/how much they drink/sugar or sugar-free/regular or diet
  • Error bars represent 95% confidence intervals
 Data Table for Figure 1
Table 1. Public opinion on the healthiness of sugar-sweetened beverages in Ottawa, 2017
Type of SSBConsidered Healthy or Not?% Adults (18 Years of Age and Over)95% Confidence Intervals
Vitamin Water Healthy 21.2 18.2 - 24.8
Unhealthy 55.1 51.3 - 58.8
Maybe/Depends 5.1 3.7 - 6.8
Don't Know 18.5 16.2 - 21.0
Sports Drinks Healthy 8.9 7.2 - 11.1
Unhealthy 73.3 70.1 - 76.3
Maybe/Depends 13.4 11.1 - 16.0
Don't Know 4.4 3.2 - 6.1
Energy Drinks Healthy NR  
Unhealthy 95.8 94.6 - 96.7
Maybe/Depends NR  
Don't Know 3.1 2.3 - 4.1
Chocolate Milk Healthy 38.6 35.3 – 42.0
Unhealthy 38.6 35.0 - 42.3
Maybe/Depends 20.9 17.8 - 24.3
Don't Know 2.0* 1.3 - 3.2
Flavoured Milk or Milk Alternatives Healthy 52.3 48.6 – 56.0
Unhealthy 25.3 22.2 - 28.7
Maybe/Depends 13.4 11.1 - 16.2
Don't Know 8.9 7.3 - 10.7
Fruit Flavoured Drinks Healthy 11.9 9.9 - 14.2
Unhealthy 76.5 73.5 - 79.2
Maybe/Depends 9.8 7.9 - 12.0
Don't Know 1.9* 1.3 - 2.8
Any SSB Healthy 69.4 65.8 - 72.7
Unhealthy 30.6 27.3 - 34.2

Figure 2. The perceived health effects of sugar-sweetened beverages according to Ottawa residents in 2017

Horizontal bar chart presenting the perceived health effects of SSBs according to Ottawa residents in 2017.

 Data Source and Notes for Figure 2
Ottawa Public Health. Rapid Risk Factor Surveillance System, 2017.
  • The Rapid Risk Factor Surveillance System (RRFSS) is an ongoing random-digit dialed telephone (landline and cell) population health survey of Ottawa adults aged 18 years and older. 
  • Error bars represent 95% confidence intervals
 Data Table for Figure 2
Table 2. The perceived health effects of sugar-sweetened beverages according to Ottawa residents in 2017
Perceived Health Effects of SSBs as Identified by Ottawa Adults% of Adults that Believe SSBs can have Health Effects95% Confidence Intervals
Diabetes/ High Blood Sugar 74 70.5 - 77.2
Weight Gain/ Overweight/ Obesity 54.4 50.7 - 58.1
Heart/ Cardiovascular Disease 10.4 8.3 - 12.8
Tooth Decay/ Cavities 8.8 7 - 11.1
High Blood Pressure/ Hypertension 5.9 4.5 - 7.7
Other 17.4 14.7 - 20.6

Marketing of Unhealthy Foods and Drinks to Children and Youth

Marketing of unhealthy foods and drinks to children and youth can influence perceptions and food choices.  Unhealthy foods and drinks are defined as those that are high in sugar, salt, fat or calories.  In Ottawa, many residents perceive that marketing impacts food choices. When looking at marketing of unhealthy foods and drinks specifically [22]:

  • Nine in ten agree that children and youth are targeted;
  • Nine in ten agree that it affects their food choices;
  • Three in four agree that it is mostly for products that are unhealthy;
  • Three in four agree that it affects what they ask their parents or guardians to buy; and
  • Nine in ten agree that it can cause health problems such as obesity in children and youth, or cause health problems later when they are adults.

Food Security

Food security exists “when all people, at all times, have physical and economic access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food to meet their dietary needs and food preferences for an active and healthy life.” [23] A household is considered food insecure when the quality of its food is compromised or when food intake is reduced (e.g., skipping meals). Low income continues to be a barrier to achieving good health, being food secure, and living an active life.

In Ottawa:

  • In 2017, six percent of students in Grades 7 to 12 reported always or often going to school or to bed hungry because there was not enough food in their home, which is the same as students across the rest of Ontario. [4]
  • Students with low self-perceived socio-economic status (SES) (11%) were more likely than students with high self-perceived SES (5%) to go to school or bed hungry. [4]
  • In 2013/14, one in fifteen (7%) Ottawa households reported food insecurity, which was similar to the rest of Ontario (9%). Food insecurity has remained stable since 2007/08 in Ottawa. [24]

Reports on Nutrition

The Nutritious Food Basket 

The Nutritious Food Basket (NFB) survey measures the cost of basic healthy eating. Every year in May, Ottawa Public Health costs 67 food items in 10 grocery stores. Annually, the local cost of the NFB plus rent are compared with household income from social assistance or minimum wage work to assess whether income from these sources is adequate to cover the cost of these basic necessities. Year after year, the results of the NFB survey show that low-income households struggle to afford their bills while also putting healthy food on the table.  Families are often forced to pay for fixed expenses such as rent, transportation, and heat before buying their groceries.

2018 Nutritious Food Basket Report [PDF 4 MB]

2018 Nutritious Food Basket Infographic [PDF 3 MB]

 

References

References

  1. Ottawa Public Health. The Price of Eating Well. Ottawa (ON). 2017.
  2. Health Canada. Eating Well with Canada's Food Guide. Ottawa, ON: Her Majesty the Queen in Right of Canada, represented by the Minister of Health Canada; 2011. 
  3. Ottawa Public Health. Canadian Community Health Survey 2015/16. Ontario Share File. Statistics Canada.

  4. Ottawa Public Health. Public Health Monitoring of Risk Factors in Ontario – OSDUHS (2017), Centre for Addictions and Mental Health.
  5. Ottawa Public Health. Rapid Risk Factor Surveillance System, 2016.

  6. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The CDC Guide to Strategies for Reducing the Consumption of Sugar-Sweetened Beverages. 2010. 
  7. Dieticians of Canada. Taxation and Sugar-Sweetened Beverages- Position of Dietitians of Canada. 2016. 
  8. Woodward-Lopez G, Kao J, Richie L. To what extent have sweetened beverages contributed to the obesity epidemic? Public Heal Nutr. 2011;14(3):499–509. Available from: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20860886
  9. Committee on Accelerating Progress in Obesity Prevention, Food and Nutrition Board, Institute of Medicine. Accelerating Progress in Obesity Prevention: Solving the Weight of the Nation. 2012. Available from: http://www.nap.edu/catalog/13275/accelerating-progress-in-obesity-prevention-solving-the-weight-of-the

  10. Ludwig DS, Peterson KE, Gortmaker SL. Relation between consumption of sugar-sweetened drinks and childhood obesity: a prospective, observational analysis. Lancet. 2001;357(9255):505-8. Abstract available from: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11229668

  11. Nicklas TA, Yang S, Baranowski T, Zakeri I, Berenson G. Eating patterns and obesity in children: the Bogalusa Heart Study. Am J Prev Med. 2003;25(1):9-16. Abstract available from: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12818304 
  12. Malik VS, Schulze MB, Hu FB. Intake of sugar-sweetened beverages and weight gain: a systematic review. Am J Clin Nutr. 2006;84:274-88. Abstract available from: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/1689587

  13. Vartanian L, Schwartz M, Brownell K. Effects of soft drink consumption on nutrition and health: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Am J Public Health. 2007;97(4):667-75. Abstract available from: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17329656

  14. Malik VS, Pan A, Willett WC, Hu FB. Sugar-sweetened beverages and weight gain in children and adults: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Am J Clin Nutr 2013;98(4):1084-102. Abstract available from: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23966427

  15. Fung TT, Malik B, Rexrode KM, Manson JE, Willett WC,Hu FB. Sweetened beverage consumption and risk of coronary heart disease in women. Am J Clin Nutr. 2009;89(4):1037-42. Abstract available from: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19211821

  16. Appel LJ, Sacks FM, Carey VJ, Obarzanek E, Swain JF, Miller ER, et al. Effects of protein, monounsaturated fat, and carbohydrate intake on blood pressure and serum lipids: results of the OmniHeart randomized trial. JAMA. 2005;294:2455-66. Abstract available from: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16287956

  17. Dhingra R, Sullivan L, Jacques PF, Wang TJ, Fox CS, Meigs JB, et al. Soft drink consumption and risk of developing cardiometabolic risk factors and the metabolic syndrome in middle-aged adults in the community. Circulation. 2007;116(5):480-8. Abstract available from: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17646581

  18. Malik VS, Popkin BM, Bray GA, Depres JP, Willett WC, Hu FB. Sugar-sweetened beverages and risk of metabolic syndrome and type 2 diabetes: a meta-analysis. Diab Care. 2010 Nov;33(11): 2477-83. Abstract available from: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20693348

  19. Schulze MB, Manson JE, Ludwig DS, Colditz GA, Stampfer MJ, Willett WC, et al. Sugar-sweetened beverages, weight gain, and incidence of type 2 diabetes in young and middle-aged women. JAMA. 2004;292(8):927-34. Abstract available from: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15328324

  20. Malik VS, Hu FB. Fructose and Cardiometabolic Health: What the Evidence From Sugar-Sweetened Beverages Tells Us. J Am Coll Cardiol. 2015;66(14):1615-24. Abstract available from: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26429086

  21. Ottawa Public Health. Rapid Risk Factor Surveillance System, 2016.
  22. Ottawa Public Health. Results of Consultations for Marketing of Unhealthy Foods and Beverages to Children and Youth in Ottawa, 2017
  23. Food and Agriculture Organisation. Report of the World Food Summit. 2002. [cited 2018 Jun 14]. 
  24. Ottawa Public Health. Canadian Community Health Survey 2007-2014. Ontario Share File. Statistics Canada.
  25. Ottawa Public Health. Health Equity and Social Determinants of Health in Ottawa. November 2016. Ottawa. 

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