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September 20, 2004
Nutrition and food security: basic determinants of health
Dr. David McKeown, Toronto's Medical Officer of Health, presented reports today
to the Board of Health on the nutrition health status of Toronto residents.
Together, the reports call for a comprehensive strategy involving all levels of
government and the community to reduce the risk of chronic disease associated
with poor nutrition.

"The evidence is increasingly clear. For the non-smoking majority, poor diet
and physical inactivity are set to overtake tobacco as the leading preventable
causes of death," said Dr. McKeown.

Dr. McKeown presented five reports on food and nutrition issues outlining a
number of findings:

· 83 per cent of men and 75 per cent of women in Toronto do not meet the
recommended guidelines for three chronic disease risk factors combined: fruit
and vegetable consumption, healthy weights and physical activity levels.
· 11 per cent of Toronto's adult population lack food security - they do not
have enough nutritious and culturally appropriate food to ensure good health.
· The cost of the Nutritious Food Basket, a price comparison of 66 foods in at
least six grocery stores in Toronto, has increased 2.3 per cent from last year
and 13 per cent in five years, a period when low-income families saw their
purchasing power reduced by 9.7 per cent.
· The high cost of rental housing means many people are forced to choose
between paying rent and buying food.

The reports call for action on key issues:

· Provincial and federal health authorities should adopt a comprehensive
strategy to promote vegetable and fruit consumption, healthy weights and
physical activity.
· Health Canada should revise its draft nutrition recommendations to support
sound nutrition advice to consumers, in light of the proliferation of
unscientific but popular diet regimes.
· Schools should work with key stakeholders to implement a comprehensive
approach to healthy nutrition in schools.

Media contact:
Mary Margaret Crapper, Toronto Public Health, 416-338-7873



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