There is no “silver bullet” in solving the obesity problem in Canada. The federal government must be involved.
Recommendation 1: The committee recommends that the federal government, in partnership with the provinces and territories and in consultation with a wide range of stakeholders, create and implement a National Campaign to Combat Obesity which includes goals, timelines and annual progress reports.
Recommendation 2: The committee recommends that the federal government:
- Immediately conduct a thorough assessment of the prohibition on advertising food to children in Quebec; and,
- Design and implement a prohibition on the advertising of foods and beverages to children based on that assessment.
Recommendation 3: The committee recommends that the federal government:
- Assess the options for taxation levers with a view to implementing a new tax on sugar-sweetened as well as artificially-sweetened beverages; and,
- Conduct a study, and report back to this committee by December 2016, on potential means of increasing the affordability of healthy foods including, but not limited to, the role of marketing boards, food subsidies and the removal or reduction of existing taxes.
Recommendation 4: The committee further recommends that the Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada immediately:
- Address the recommendations made by the Auditor General with respect to the Nutrition North program and report back to this committee on its progress by December 2016; and,
Recommendation 5: The committee further recommends that the federal government conduct assessments of the Children’s Fitness Tax Credit, the Working Income Tax Benefit and the Universal Child Care Benefit with a view to determining how fiscal measures could be used to help Canadians of lower socio-economic status, including our Aboriginal population, choose healthy lifestyle options.
Recommendation 6: The committee recommends that the Minister of Health immediately undertake a complete revision of Canada’s food guide in order that it better reflect the current state of scientific evidence. The revised food guide must:
- Be evidence-based;
- Apply meal-based rather than nutrient-based principles;
- Effectively and prominently describe the benefits of fresh, whole foods compared to refined grains, ready-to-eat meals and processed foods; and,
- Make strong statements about restricting consumption of highly processed foods.
Recommendation 7: The committee further recommends that the Minister of Health revise the food guide on the guidance of an advisory body which:
- Comprises experts in relevant areas of study, including but not limited to nutrition, medicine, metabolism, biochemistry, and biology; and,
- Does not include representatives of the food or agriculture industries.
Recommendation 8: The committee therefore recommends that the Minister of Health prohibit the use of partially hydrogenated oils, to minimize trans fat content in food, unless specifically permitted by regulation.
Recommendation 9: The committee further recommends that the Minister of Health:
- Reassess the daily value applied to total carbohydrates based on emerging evidence regarding dietary fat and the fat promoting nature of carbohydrates;
- Ensure that the regulatory proposals for serving size have addressed all of the concerns raised by stakeholders during public consultation, and,
- Require that the daily intake value for protein be included in the Nutrition Facts table.
Recommendation 10: The committee further recommends that the Minister of Health assess whether sugar and starch should be combined under the heading of total carbohydrate within the Nutrition Facts table and report back to this committee by December 2016.
Recommendation 11: The committee therefore recommends that the Minister of Health implement strict limits on the use of permitted health claims and nutrient content claims based on a measure of a food’s energy density relative to its total nutrient content.
Recommendation 12: The committee therefore recommends that the Minister of Health identify and implement an effective front-of-package labeling scheme.
Recommendation 13: The committee therefore recommends that the Minister of Health encourage nutrition labeling on menus and menu boards in food service establishments.
Recommendation 14: The committee therefore recommends that the federal government increase funding to ParticipACTION to a level sufficient for the organization to:
- Proceed with Active Canada 20/20; and
- Become the national voice for Canada’s physical activity messaging.
Recommendation 15: The committee further recommends that the Minister of Health and the Minister of Sport and Persons with Disabilities together use the recently established National Health and Fitness Day to promote the Canadian Physical Activity Guidelines.
Recommendation 16: The committee further recommends that the Public Health Agency of Canada provide sustained or bridged funding for pilot projects that have been assessed as effective.
Recommendation 17: The committee further recommends that the Minister of Health in discussion with provincial and territorial counterparts as well as non-governmental organizations already engaged in these initiatives:
- Increase the role of physicians in fighting obesity and encourage collaboration with exercise professionals,
- Include specific approaches for vulnerable sub-groups of the population,
- Promote school-based programs and community infrastructure that promote healthy, active lifestyles.
Recommendation 18: The committee further recommends that the federal government provide funding under the New Building Canada Fund to communities for infrastructure that enables, facilitates and encourages an active lifestyle, both indoors and outdoors.
Recommendation 19: The committee therefore recommends that the Public Health Agency of Canada implement a strategy to increase the visibility, uptake and use of the Best Practices Portal by stakeholders across the country.
Recommendation 20: The committee therefore recommends that Health Canada design and implement a public awareness campaign on healthy eating based on tested, simple messaging. These messages should relate to, but not be limited to:
- Most of the healthiest food doesn’t require a label;
- Meal preparation and enjoyment;
- Reduced consumption of processed foods; and,
- The link between poor diet and chronic disease.
Recommendation 21: The committee further recommends that Health Canada and other relevant departments and agencies, together with existing expertise and trusted organizations, implement a comprehensive public awareness campaign on healthy active lifestyles.