Senate committee declares war on obesity

Committee urges overhaul of Canada’s Food Guide to combat serious health issues


OTTAWA — Canada’s Food Guide should be urgently overhauled to reflect current scientific evidence, a Senate committee report warned Tuesday.

“Several witnesses suggested that Canada’s Food Guide has been at best ineffective and at worst enabling with respect to the rising levels of unhealthy weights and diet-related chronic diseases in Canada,” the report said.

It recommended the revised food guide make strong statements about restricting consumption of highly processed foods.

The report also suggested the government should consider a tax on sugar-sweetened beverages and a ban on advertising food and drinks to children.

Committee chair Sen. Kelvin Ogilvie said obesity is a crucial determinant of serious health issues and declining quality of life.

“We can’t sugar-coat it any longer,” Ogilvie said at an event an Ottawa YMCA. “The obesity crisis is real.”

A significant reduction in sugar consumption would go a long way toward promoting normal body weight and improved health, he added.

The report follows a study conducted by the committee between February 2014 and June 2015.

The committee conclusions also painted a picture of soaring obesity rates.

The number of obese adults has doubled in Canada since 1980 while the number of obese children has tripled, the report noted.

Each year 48,000 to 66,000 Canadians die from conditions linked to excess weight, it added.

Looking for more?

Get the Best of Maclean's sent straight to your inbox. Sign up for news, commentary and analysis.