Health Minister Ginette Petitpas Taylor, right, and nutritionist Jessica Cole look over samples of some of the food groups at the unveiling of Canada’s new Food Guide, Tuesday, January 22, 2019 in Montreal. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz)

New food guide addresses ‘elephant’ in the room – alcohol

Experts welcomed the tougher stance on an issue they say demands a co-ordinated strategy

A move by Ottawa to use Canada’s food guide to drill home the dangers of chronic alcohol use caught some nutrition and addiction experts by surprise, but they welcomed the tougher stance on an issue they say demands a co-ordinated strategy.

“It’s sort of been the elephant in the corner of the room,” says University of Guelph nutrition professor David Ma, university research leadership chair and director of the Guelph Family Health Study.

READ MORE: B.C. dairy farmers say milk cup is half full in new Canada Food Guide

“(For) those working in the cancer field in nutrition, there is awareness of the growing concern for alcohol and its relationship to obesity and cancers of various types. But it wasn’t as big a priority as other areas…. Alcohol is starting to float up to the top.”

Along with encouraging a diet full of fruits and vegetables and non-meat proteins, Canada’s first new guide in 12 years takes pointed aim at alcohol with a dedicated section that characterizes it as “a leading global health concern.”

It notes long-term consumption is associated with increased risk of many types of cancer including — liver, mouth, colorectal and breast, as well as other serious health conditions including hypertension and liver disease. It also billboards social problems associated with drinking, and the 3,100 deaths and 77,000 hospitalizations related to alcohol in 2016.

It ends by advising those who don’t drink to never be encouraged to start, and urging those who do drink to limit themselves to Canada’s Low-Risk Alcohol Drinking Guidelines. (That separate guide caps weekly drinks at 10 for women and 15 for men. It also states women should have no more than two most days, while men should cap it at three most days.)

The new food guide’s focus on drinking is in contrast to the 2007 edition, which only mentioned the high calories and sugar content as reasons to limit alcohol, arguments the current guide repeats.

It’s also in line with a broader shift in the food guide’s objectives, which now not only suggest what one should eat, but how one should eat — ideally with others, in conjunction with high levels of physical activity for youth and children, and with the awareness that your food choices impact the environment and long-term food supply.

Hasan Hutchinson, director general of nutritional policy and programs at Health Canada, acknowledged the change in a conference call with reporters this week, noting, “there has been, over the last several years, the awareness that there’s a substantial disease burden attributed to alcohol intake.”

“This is something that is part of a pattern of eating and drinking so we think that it’s very important to have this in the food guide,” Hutchinson said.

Cassandra Szklarski, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Only 35 per cent of students returning to Vernon schools

Only 30 per cent of secondary students going back June 1 and 50 per cent of elementary

Vernon chamber backs council’s opposition of downtown overdose prevention site

The chamber sent a letter to B.C.’s health minister calling for the site not to be located downtown

Bird knocks out power for thousands in Vernon

Evening outage was brief, but affected nearly 3,000 residents

GALLERY: Perfect day for replanting marigolds in Armstrong

Volunteers soak up sun as they replant city’s Marigold Mile Wednesday, May 27

Vernon player chooses Winnipeg as next soccer home

Tori Hauptman will play for the University of Winnipeg Wesmen in U-SPORTS’ Canada West conference

Duck nests at Vernon drive-thru

Mother has hatched four ducklings just inches from the steady stream of vehicles

COVID-19: B.C. too dependent on foreign food production workers

New B.C. job site links unemployed with farm, seafood work

Princeton officially becomes ’Bronze Statue Capital of Canada’

“We are going to come out of this fine.” That’s the opinion… Continue reading

Kelowna man arrested for murder of Alberta man

A second man is also wanted in connection with the first degree murder of Cody Michaloski

LETTER: Summerland solar project should be reviewed

Questions raised about feasibility of proposed power project

New ‘smart city’ 5G technology to be installed in Kelowna next week

‘This is an exciting opportunity for Kelowna to build on the work we’re doing to bring smart city technologies to our city’ - Mayor Colin Basran

B.C. businesses ‘can’t shoulder burden’ of COVID-19 sick pay

Trudeau’s plan should be tied to federal emergency aid

Police investigating after hydrant hit by van in West Kelowna

The incident occurred around 5:40 p.m. near Boucherie Road

Pregnant Revelstoke woman catches COVID-19 days before giving birth

Michelle Hunter said she felt like she was in a horror movie when she discovered she had COVID-19

Most Read