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

Just Posted

Latest round of Columbia River Treaty talks wrap up in Cranbrook

Federal, provincial, U.S. and Indigenous representatives recently met for eight round of discussions

First Nations given max compensation for Ottawa’s child-welfare discrimination

2016 ruling said feds didn’t give same funding for on-reserve kids as was given to off-reserve kids

Come run for Terry this Sunday

Terry Fox Run in Invermere raises funds for cancer research

Council rejects water bottling plant in current spot

Cites possibility to having facility built at another location in the village

Climate change website launched by Selkirk College and Columbia Basin Trust

The site features climate information for communities in the Columbia Basin and boundary region

VIDEO: Vancouver Island mayor details emergency response after fatal bus crash

Sharie Minions says she is ‘appalled’ by condition of road where bus crashed

Federal party leaders address gun violence after weekend shooting near Toronto

One teen was killed and five people injured in the shooting

Conservatives promise tax cut that they say will address Liberal increases

Scheer says the cut would apply to the lowest income bracket

B.C. VIEWS: Cutting wood waste produces some bleeding

Value-added industry slowly grows as big sawmills close

Fewer trees, higher costs blamed for devastating downturn in B.C. forestry

Some say the high cost of logs is the major cause of the industry’s decline in B.C.

Federal food safety watchdog says batch of baby formula recalled

The agency says it’s conducting a food safety investigation

UVic president offers condolences after two students killed in bus crash

‘We also grieve with those closest to these members of our campus community,’ Cassels says

Coming Home: B.C. fire chief and disaster dog return from hurricane-ravaged Bahamas

The pair spent roughly one week on Great Abaco Island assisting in relief efforts

Most Read