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Eating Healthy Matters

According to the Burlington Community Foundation's Vital Signs 2013 report, only 39% of Burlington adults consume 5 or more servings of vegetables and fruit. That means 6 in 10 adults eat below the Canada Food Guide's recommended level. Combine that with the fact that 4 in 10 adults aged 18 - 69 have physical activity levels that are only low to moderate.

These statistics lead to another fact: just over half of Burlington's adult population (over 75,000 people) consider themselves as overweight or obese. People in this category are at higher risk of developing preventable health problems like Type 2 diabetes, hypertension, coronary heart disease, obstructive sleep apnea, and certain cancers.

Concern over youth obesity rates is also growing. A Halton Youth Survey (2011) revealed that 26 - 28% of boys are classified as overweight or obese, and 11 - 14% of girls, in grades 7 & 10. Some of the reasons suggested by grade 10 students include: eating fast food, processed food and unhealthy cafeteria food; choosing not to select healthy foods; not being able to afford healthy foods; parents are not supervising their food choices and give money instead of making lunches to bring.

Unhealthy eating attitudes and behaviours increase the risk of girls and boys developing clinical eating disorders like anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa. In Burlington, there has been a dramatic increase in the number of clients with these disorders in people under 25 and especially under the age of 16.

Facts like these are examples of trends in Ontario that have prompted health professionals to develop an Ontario Food and Nutrition Strategy.

Goals of the Ontario Food and Nutrition Strategy include:

  1. To promote health through healthy eating and access to healthful food for all Ontarians.
  2. To reduce the burden of obesity and chronic disease on Ontarians and the Ontario heath care system.
  3. To strengthen the Ontario economy and environment through a diverse, healthy and resilient food system.

Expected outcomes of the strategy include:

  • Healthy and local foods available everywhere
  • Increased demand for production of safe, healthy, local, and culturally acceptable foods
  • Increased consumption of healthy and local foods
  • Reduced reliance on rescue systems
  • Improved eating behaviours and health outcomes
  • Safe and sustainable food production
  • Strengthened economy through a diverse, healthy and resilient food system

More information about the strategic direction, priorities and actions can be found at Sustain Ontario.