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)

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

(BCCDC)
42 cases of COVID-19 in the Central Okanagan last week

Interior Health is reporting 42 cases of COVID-19 between Feb. 21 and 27

(Courtesy of West Kelowna Fire Rescue)
UPDATE: West Kelowna structure fire deemed accidental

Firefighter injured in Ponderosa Rd. house fire is recovering at home from knee, back injury

Kasugai Garden Park in downtown Kelowna will open for the season March 15. —Image: City of Kelowna
Downtown Kelowna’s Kasugai Gardens reopens for spring

The Kelowna Memorial Park Cemetery is also set to open its gates later this month

RCMP stock. (Phil McLachlan - Black Press)
Teen grabbed while jogging in Southeast Kelowna

18-year-old woman pulled free, running home and reporting incident to police

Bananatag CEO and co-founder Corey Wagner. (Bananatag)
Kelowna communications company merges with German platform

Bananatag and Staffbase together will provide communications strategies

Health Minister Adrian Dix looks on as Dr. Bonnie Henry pauses for a moment as she gives her daily media briefing regarding COVID-19 for British Columbia in Victoria, B.C. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
7 additional deaths and 542 new COVID-19 cases in B.C.

Provincial health officials reported 18 new COVID-19 cases linked to variants of concern

(File photo)
Kamloops Mountie bitten while arresting woman

The assault on March 1 is the latest in a string of incidents that have left local officers injured

Penticton RCMP will be attending Friday’s protest to enforce provincial health orders that restrict all gatherings. (File photo)
Penticton RCMP warn of potential fines for Friday’s protest in Gyro Park

Police will be there to enforce provincial health orders that restrict all organized gatherings

An air quality advisory continues in Vernon March 4 due to high levels of dust in the air from winter traction material. (Jennifer Smith - Morning Star)
UPDATE: More road dust continues air quality advisory in Vernon

The advisory will last until the next rainfall or until enough street sweeping work is done

Mountain caribou from an endangered herd have returned to an area adjacent to the area closed to snowmobiling on Queest Mountain. (Jim Elliot/Eagle Valley News)
Return of caribou herd prompts temporary snowmobiling closure near Sicamous

Lake Play area on Queest Mountain closed for the second time this year

Grand Forks’ Gary Smith stands in front of his Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster float. Photo: Submitted
Grand Forks’ Flying Spaghetti Monster leader still boiling over driver’s licence photo

Gary Smith, head of the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster of B.C., said he has since spoken to lawyers

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

A Cowichan Valley mom is wondering why masks haven’t been mandated for elementary schools. (Metro Creative photo)
B.C. mom frustrated by lack of mask mandate for elementary students

“Do we want to wait until we end up like Fraser Health?”

Most Read