Vancouver researchers find Canadians drinking less sugary beverages and milk but identify areas of dietary concern

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      A Vancouver-based study of what Canadians are eating has found that while have been some healthy improvements in Canadian diets over the past decade, there have been some areas that are cause for concern.

      In the UBC study published today (February 28) in the academic journal Nutrients, researchers compared dietary data from two national surveys involving over 50,000 Canadians of two years of age and older.

      The surveys, held in 2004 and 2015, asked respondents about the food and beverages they consumed with the previous 24-hour period.

      The number of total fruit and vegetables that Canadians ate on a daily basis had sunk from an average of 5.2 servings in 2004 to an average of 4.6 servings in 2015.

      Much of the decrease was attributed to less vegetables (that were not coloured dark green or orange), potatoes, and fruit juice. The average daily intakes of total vegetables and fruit, potatoes, fruit juice, milk and high-calorie beverage had declined by 10 percent.

      However, Canadians did increase the amount of dark green and orange vegetables in their diets. Furthermore, Canadians also significantly increased their average daily intake of meat and poultry, as well as alternatives, such as eggs, legumes, nuts, and seeds.

      Meanwhile, there weren't any overall increases in consumption levels of whole fruit, whole grains, fish, and shellfish, despite these foods being recommended by the 2007 Canada’s Health Food Guide. On the other hand, children and adolescent did report more daily servings of whole fruit in 2015 than in 2004.

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      The report also revealed that Canadians have cut back on drinking both milk and sugary beverages, resulting in an average decrease of 32 calories per day. Although milk consumption decreased, Canadians did increase the amount of dairy products, such as cheese or yogurt, eaten per day.

      Regarding milk drinking, the study states that “the shift towards consuming fewer servings of fluid milk could be concerning from a population health perspective if fluid milk is not replaced with other food sources rich in calcium and vitamin D”.

      In a healthy development, teenagers reported drinking 73 less calories per day from sugary beverages—a significant 43 percent drop since 2004.

      Nonetheless, the researchers do raise concerns about how the decreases in areas of nutrition can have an adverse impact upon health.

      “Poor diet quality is the number one contributor to the burden of chronic diseases in Canada,” lead author Claire Tugault-Lafleur stated in a news release. The study cites examples such as type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, and some cancers.

      The study adds that “future research should focus on understanding the barriers to improving the consumption of ‘a variety of healthy foods each day’ now emphasized in the 2019 Canada’s Dietary Guidelines”.

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