NDP Health and Long-Term Care Critic France Gélinas issued the following statement to mark Nutrition Month in Canada.
The month of March is recognized across Canada as Nutrition Month, brought to us by the Dieticians of Canada and thousands of dietitians working here in Ontario.
Studies find that consumers want to eat healthy meals but have trouble navigating the complicated and sometimes confusing information about nutrition. So, this year, Nutrition Month helps shoppers by providing clear advice to support healthy choices at the grocery store and to put their “Best Food Forward” - the name of this year’s campaign. Activities are taking place across communities in our province with registered dieticians hosting grocery store tours and promoting cooking events to help Ontarians create healthy meal.
Registered dieticians work in many settings in Ontario, from hospitals to community health centres, aboriginal health access centres, and a few family health teams. You can find them in many areas of our province. They bring what we call evidence-based nutrition and food advice to consumers, clients and patients. As regulated health professionals, the public can have confidence that somebody who uses the title of registered dietician has the training and the skills to provide safe, ethical and competent care and advice.
March 21 is the fourth annual Dieticians Day it is a day to recognize the work of dieticians and the value they bring to our health care system. They help prevent and manage chronic disease; they help to promote recovery. Dieticians are what we call a cost-effective investment in the health care system because they help people stay healthy, and they help prevent further complications for people struggling with disease. Promoting access to dietician care and supporting dieticians to work to their full scope of practice will help us keep Ontarians healthy.
Last week a report called “No Time to Wait: The Healthy Kids Strategy” was released. The report suggests a three-pronged approach to reducing child obesity. The first one is “Start All Kids on the Path to Health.” It explains the importance of supporting pregnant women and their families as well as children after they are born. As the NDP health critic I have advocated for a breastfeeding strategy for years, I think now is a great time to finally move forward with such a strategy.
Second is “Change the Food Environment.” This priority targets parents who want to give healthy food to their kids, but they often have a hard time due to the environment, all the marketing that is done to children, the point-of-sale promotions, the display of unhealthy food that makes impulse buying easy.
Third, the report recommends creating healthy communities. Here, we want to focus on keeping our kids healthy, by advancing the Poverty Reduction Strategy, looking at mental health, looking at schools as hubs, etc.
These are all good feasible ideas.
Last week the government adopted my skin cancer prevention bill. I have pushed for this bill for 5 years; the government finally agreed to give it the final push to make it through to the finish line.
There are other bills that could go the same way, such as my Healthy Decisions for Healthy Eating bill. This bill would require all big chain restaurants to post the number of calories beside the items that you eat. Looking at an item on a menu, it is impossible to guess which one has the most calories, which ones are high in sodium. This information is available under the counter, on a poster on the way to the bathroom, or a website. But if you put it right there on the menu board, you see: “Big Mac: $4.89, 540 calories.” It makes all the difference in the world, because then people have the right information at the right time. The way we have it now, one person in 1,000 uses the information; put it on the menu board, one person out of two will use it to make healthy decisions for healthy eating. I think this is an easy win. Let’s go with it.
Thank you to all the Registered Dietitians of Ontario, you serve us well.