Life habits

Innovative Courses of Action Pertaining to “Illicit” Psychoactive Substances

This report is the result of a mandate from the Ministère de la Santé et des Services sociaux (MSSS) [Québec’s ministry of health and social services] to produce a knowledge synthesis focused on nine courses of action which pertain to “illicit” psychoactive substances and which have not been implemented, or have been implemented only on a limited scale or as a pilot project in Québec.

The nine courses of action are:

  • Education programs for overdose prevention and management with naloxone;
  • Supervised consumption services;
  • Prison syringe exchange programs;
  • Low-threshold housing programs;
  • Crack smoking equipment distribution programs;
  • Programs for prevention and substance analysis in festive environments;

Preventing Intentional OTC Drug Overdoses

  • Each year in Québec, approximately 174 people commit suicide by drug overdose, of which at least 15 are the result of over-the-counter (OTC) drug overdoses.
  • A substantial number of suicides and suicide attempts by overdose involve more than one substance.
  • The number of suicides by OTC medication is under-estimated, since in cases where several drugs have been ingested, only the substance that is presumed to have caused the death is considered when determining the most likely cause of death.
  • Acetaminophen is by far the most common drug involved in intentional OTC drug overdoses, followed by salicylates, non-steroidal anti-inflammatories, and antihistamines. Depending on the ingested drug and dose, these medications can have serious adverse health effects.
  • Unlike in a number of European countries, Canada (including Québec) has no restrictions on the maximum quantity per OTC pack sold in pharmacies, particularly for acetaminophen, ibuprofe…

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 qual…

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 bei…

Being active to stay fit ... mentally!

Mental health promotion and common mental disorder prevention interventions may apply several well-recognized strategies. Noteworthy among them are strategies that foster the development of public policies and the creation of supportive environments for mental health, that strengthen community action and that support the acquisition of personal skills. These interventions can be global, focusing on several key determinants of mental health, or they can be specific, focusing on only one of these elements; they can also address the population as a whole, a specific age group, or a vulnerable sub-group. Encouraging physical activity is one mental health promotion and mental disorder prevention strategy among many others and can use the various strategies mentioned.

The development of interventions and programs that rely on physical activity to promote mental health and prevent common mental disorders must take into account the main findings and recommendations that are in the l…

The Economic Consequences Associated With Obesity and Overweight in Québec: Costs Tied to Hospitalization and Medical Consultations

Over the past 40 years, industrialized countries have undergone social and economic changes that have increased the risk of developing chronic diseases within the population. The increasingly sedentary nature of work, a decrease in physical activity due to reliance on automobiles and to urban sprawl and more sedentary recreational activities have all contributed to an ongoing reduction in levels of physical activity.

To this can be added the major changes the food system has undergone during the same period. The food system is now characterized by the industrialization of agricultural production, increased caloric availability and lower prices for food with low nutritional value. In addition, food distribution and marketing practices have made food continually available in our environments. In this type of environment, which does little to promote healthy eating and the adoption of a physically active lifestyle, chronic diseases and obesity increased.

Binge Drinking Among Youth in Québec: Portrait and Evolution from 2000 to 2012

Alcohol use and the many social and health issues associated with it are public health concerns. The impact of alcohol depends primarily on the total volume of alcohol consumed and the pattern of drinking, particularly drinking a large quantity on a single occasion (WHO, 2009).

This work has allowed us to develop a current profile of binge drinking among youth in Québec who drink alcohol and to examine the trends and changes over time in this consumption pattern from 2000 to 2012.

These initial results indicate that just under a third of young drinkers in Québec engaged in binge drinking in 2011-2012. This phenomenon affects males much more than females, regardless of age.

Although many young drinkers started to drink excessively at around the age of 18, this behaviour was already present in young males of 14-15 years and in young females of 16-17 years of age. However, it is young adults of 22-23 years of age who are most likely to binge drink…

Electronic Cigarette Use Among Secondary School Students in Québec: 2012-2013

Electronic cigarettes are new devices with which users mimic the gestures and produce the feeling of smoking without exposing themselves to the toxic by-products of tobacco combustion. While many experts consider them to be a less harmful alternative for smokers' health than conventional cigarettes, others are concerned that they could renormalize smoking and provide a gateway to conventional cigarettes for young people.

This study is one of the first to assess electronic cigarette use among secondary school students in Québec.

The findings indicate that most students have heard of electronic cigarettes. In 2012-2013, 34% of secondary school students had ‘ever used' electronic cigarettes and approximately 6% had used them in the past 30 days. These estimates are high compared with those in the United States and suggest that youth in Québec have access to this product. Almost one third of secondary school students who had never tried electronic cigarettes did not…

The Built Environment Around Schools and the Lifestyle Habits of Young People: State of Knowledge and Québec Overview

Highlights :

  • Most scientific studies show meaningful connections between the characteristics of the built environment and the eating habits, physical activity and body weight of young people.
  • The factor that appears to be most closely associated with students' weight and eating habits is the density of convenience stores and fast food restaurants in the vicinity of the school.
  • The characteristics of the built environment that have the greatest influence on physical activity are accessibility to recreational facilities and, to a lesser extent, the walkability of the neighbourhood.
  • Just over half (58.9%) of public schools in Québec are located less than 750 metres from a fast food restaurant.
  • Close to two-thirds (63.6%) of public schools have at least one convenience store within a radius of 750 metres.
  • Half (51.2%) of public schools have at least one recreational facility less than 750 me…

Body Weight and the Health of the Adult Population in Québec – Summary

This study provides, for the first time, a profile of the health burden linked to different categories of body weight (underweight, overweight and obesity) among adults 18 years of age or over for the province of Québec. Based on different indicators of physical and mental health drawn from survey data, it describes the proportion and number of men and women who report suffering from specific health problems according to their weight category. The study also identifies the degree to which certain health problems are associated with body weight, as well as highlighting particular associations where Québec stands out from the rest of Canada.

From the standpoint of public health planning, the findings presented can be used to identify initiatives that would most effectively improve the wellbeing and the quality of life of the Québec population.


  • In Québec, excess weight is synonymous with a greater number of health problems…