Public Health Achievement #1: Safer and Healthier Foods
Yesterday I got an email from the Canadian Public Health Association1, which is celebrating its centenary in 2010, telling me about the website they’ve launched to celebrate the successes of the field of public health over the last 100 years. Would you believe “that the average lifespan of Canadians has increased by more than 30 years since the early 1900s and 25 of those years are attributable to advances in public health?” Thirty years! That’s almost my entire lifespan so far in *extra* years of life!
As part of their celebration, they have listed twelve great achievements of public health in last 100 years – one to highlight each month:
|January||Safer and healthier foods|
|February||Control of infectious diseases|
|May||Recognition of tobacco use as a health hazard|
|July||Decline in deaths from coronary heart disease and stroke|
|August||Healthier mothers and babies|
|September||Acting on the social determinants of health|
And they even have snazzy badges to put on your blog (as seen above). And far be it from me to be able to resist a snazzy blog badge!
This month’s theme – Safer and Healthier Foods – is one that is near and dear to my heart, what with being a nutritional scientist and all. And the fact that it’s the theme of my birth month is just the icing on the cake2!
Some random interesting facts about food and nutrition:
- the idea that vitamin deficiencies could cause disease was first published in 1912
- Canada’s first food guide – The Official Food Rules – were first published in 1942 with the aim of preventing nutrient deficiencies during wartime rationing
- goiter was eliminated in Canada by the mandatory fortification of salt with iodine (1949)
- sometimes symptoms of food poisoning don’t appear for a month after you eat contaminated food!
- the Canadian Community Health Survey (Cycle 2.2) in 2004 was the first time in 35 years (!) that we had national nutrition data
- Canada was the first country to mandate labeling of trans fats
- more than 10% of Canadians (that’s about 3 million people) experience food insecurity
Stuff you can do:
- eat real food – the less processed, the better!
- cut trans fats out of your diet3
- follow Canada’s Food Guide4
- prevent foodbourne illnesses by: clean, separate, chill and cook!
- work to eliminate food insecurity. A good suggestion from the Dietitians of Canada’s position paper on food insecurity: “Vote, and vote wisely. Political parties espousing policies to cut taxes and privatize services invariably cut the social programs on which food-insecure people depend.”
Check out the cpha100 website to read about all the cool things that public health has done to make our food safer and healthier, from fighting foodborne illnesses to the creation and updating of Canada’s Food Guide to work on food insecurity.
- being that I now work in Public Health, I joined the CPHA [↩]
- ha ha! icing and cake in a nutrition posting [↩]
- the whole avoiding processed foods will help with that [↩]
- I know that there is always lots of debate around the Food Guide, but the basics – eat real, whole foods; eat more plant-based foods; use reasonable portion sizes; get variety in your diet – and the fact that studies show that if you follow the Food Guide, you meet the nutrient recommendations, are pretty solid [↩]