14 November 2022

The Process of Establishing a Food Cooperative: A Promising Intervention for Improving Physical Access to Food

In this issue

  • Establishing food cooperatives in rural areas with poor geographic access to nutritious foods.
  • The food cooperative as a response to collective needs for improved access to food and local services, as well as community vitality.
  • The steps required to set up a food co op, in short.

And answers to the following question

  • • What are some of the facilitating factors and difficulties encountered in the process of establishing a food cooperative?
15 December 2021

The Diet of Adults in Québec and Canada in the Context of the COVID-19 Pandemic

This synthesis of data aims to inform decision-makers and stakeholders about changes in the diets of adults in Québec and Canada during the pandemic and to guide subsequent work to promote healthy eating in the current context and for years to come. For around half the themes examined, the data was insufficient to draw conclusions. For the other half of the themes identified, while the data represent self-reported perceptions of change and are based on small non-probability and/or non-representative samples, some conclusions could be drawn.
The available data suggest that some adults in Québec and Canada changed their food intake and eating habits, while others maintained theirs, during the first year of the pandemic. Certain changes promoted health while others adversely affected it:
  • While 10%–25% of respondents indicated that they were eating more fruits and vegetables, around 10%–20% indicated that they were eating less. The majority (65…
30 October 2020

Measures to Mitigate the Effects of the Pandemic on Food Insecurity


  • What is food insecurity (FI)? Food insecurity is inadequate or uncertain access to healthy food to support a healthy and active life. It is mainly associated with a lack of financial resources.
  • Has the pandemic exacerbated FI? Yes. At the onset of the pandemic in April 2020, a reported 26% of Québec adults were living in households experiencing FI. By the end of May 2020, this rate decreased to 15%. By comparison, this rate was 11% in 2015-16, based on a survey using a different methodology.
  • Who is most affected? Households of four or more people, with children, or with members who have lost their jobs as well as people living alone and young adults have reported higher FI since the start of the pandemic.
  • How does the COVID-19 pandemic influence FI? The prevention measures associatedwith the pandemic, as well as their consequences such as individu…
7 December 2015

The Diet of Québec First Nations and Inuit Peoples

  • The diet of Québec’s First Nations and Inuit has changed significantly in a few decades. It passed from a diet based on local natural resources to a mixed diet or one relying exclusively on commercial food.
  • When adding a sedentary lifestyle and the social conditions of many families and communities, the commercially-based diet, which is high in refined sugars, trans fat, and sodium and low in essential nutrients, contributes to chronic illnesses like obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
  • The traditional diet is healthy and high in a variety of essential nutrients (iron, zinc, and vitamins A, B, C and D). The foods in this regimen generally contain abundant animal proteins as well as essential fatty acids. Eating these foods is advocated for their positive effects on individual global health.
  • A healthy and varied diet includes products obtained from hunting, trapping, fishing and gathering, but also through access to a variety of quality and…
13 October 2015

The Food Environment Around Public Schools and the Consumption of Junk Food for Lunch by Québec Secondary School Students

  • In Québec, more than half (52%) of secondary school students had not eaten junk food for lunch during the week preceding the study, while a little less than half (48%) had eaten junk food for lunch one or more times.
  • Close to 40% of students in Québec public secondary schools have access to at least two fast-food restaurants within 750 metres.
  • Consumption of junk food two or more times per week is associated with obesity and other negative health measures among young people.
  • The proportions of young people consuming junk food two or more times per week are significantly higher in schools with two (27%) or three (26%) fast-food restaurants within a 750-metre radius than in those with only one (19%) or none (19%).
  • Other factors also influence the consumption of junk food among Québec students attending public schools: being a boy, being in a family with shared custody, having parents with no more than or no secondary school diploma or being…
23 September 2013

Energy drinks: Threatening or commonplace? An update

The energy drink market has grown phenomenally in recent years. These products are said to enhance energy levels, physical alertness, and performance, and, as a result, are used by consumers for various reasons on various occasions. According to the literature, the reasons given by consumers include: staying alert, boosting energy, increasing motivation, improving sports performance, and partying all night. Some consumers also drink them because they taste good, to quench their thirst, for their perceived health benefits, and to improve the taste of alcoholic beverages.

Recent data have been published on the consumption of energy drinks by high-school students in Québec. In addition, the legal framework regulating these drinks in Canada has recently been changed. Drawing on this new information, this update of the TOPO summary published in August 2011 reports on the extent to which young people are consuming energy drinks and the level of health risk.

10 September 2013

Lifestyle Habits and Health Indicators of Québec Anglophones

As part of an initiative to evaluate the health status of Québec anglophones, their lifestyle habits and certain health indicators were examined by area of residence and compared with those of francophones. The data was taken from the 2003, 2007−2008 and 2009−2010 cycles of the Canadian Community Health Survey (CCHS), with particular emphasis on the most recent data.

The results show few statistically significant differences in lifestyle habits and health indicators between anglophones and francophones, regardless of survey cycle or area of residence. Among the few significant differences we did find, anglophones report eating less often fruits and vegetables and tended to be more prone to overweight than francophones, but were also more physically active. They also seem to have a stronger sense of community belonging.

The sample of anglophones was relatively small in this survey, which reduces its statistical power and may partially account for the limited differenc…

3 July 2013

Enabling Sustainability Policy and Planning at the Local Level: The Example of Food Policy

While sustainability policies and planning have relevance at multiple scales from the neighbourhood, to city-level, regional, national and beyond, this briefing note is intended to help public health, government and non-governmental actors promote sustainability at the local level, whether in urban or rural settings.

This briefing note begins by presenting traditional and emerging responsibilities of local governments. It then briefly summarizes approaches to putting sustainability priorities into action (in general). Next, the specific example of food policy is discussed by presenting four factors that may facilitate the implementation of food policies, and by extension, other sustainability priorities.

25 July 2012

The Use of Incentives and the Promotion of Healthy Behaviours: The Case of Unhealthy Food

One issue that has unquestionably raised concern among the public, governments, institutions and international organizations is obesity, and, in particular but not solely, childhood obesity. (World Health Organization [WHO], 2003, 2005; Delisle, 2004; Dériot, 2005). The reasons for this concern are numerous, including the fact that excess weight produces social consequences (The Canadian Medical Association [CMA], 2007, p. 6; Katzmarzyk & Janssen, 2004; National Institute of Health and Medical Research [INSERM], 2005, pp. 49-54) related to economic efficiency (Suhrcke, McKee, Sauto Arce, Tsolova & Mortensen, 2006, cited by AMC, 2007, pp. 5-6; Cusset 2008), health care (for France: Detournay et al., 2000), infrastructure development, etc. While the importance of this issue should not be diminished, there has nevertheless been a sort of catastrophic sensationalism in which obesity is referred to as an epidemic (for an example of this way of presenting the situation, see Faeh,…

13 June 2012

Taxation of sweetened beverages: An economical perspective

The taxation of food products, such as sweetened beverages, is one method that is being considered to change eating behaviours and consequently help improve the populations' health. However, very few empirical studies have been conducted on the use of fiscal measures to prevent obesity and chronic diseases. While most experts recognize the need to take action to reduce the consumption of sweetened beverages in Québec, many wonder if taxation is an interesting tool to reach this goal. Behavioral economics is a useful approach to critically study the implementation of this type of measure. It is from this angle that TOPO's editorial team chose to expose a few economic principles that may help public health practitioners get a clearer picture of the issue at hand.

The goal of this TOPO is not to take a stand on taxation, but, from a public health perspective, to include economic considerations in the public health reflection on the relevance of imposing a tax on s…