Food Insecurity in Canada

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Food insecurity is a social determinant of health that is becoming more prevalent in Canadian society. Food security is an important aspect of public health in which there is growing evidence between the association of food insecurity and poorer health outcomes. According to Raphael (2009), food insecurity can be defined as “the inability to acquire or consume an adequate diet quality or sufficient quantity of food in socially acceptable ways, or the uncertainty that one will be able to do so” (p. 188). One would not think that in a higher income country such as Canada that food insecurity would even be a public health concern, but according to Health Canada (2012) 7.2% of Canadian households were food insecure between the years 2007 and 2008. In addition, food insecurity was positively correlated with lower income households. According to Health Canada (2012) 55.5% of food insecure households main source of income was from social assistance.

Currently, there is growing evidence about the association of food insecurity and adverse health outcomes. Of particular concern is the prevalence of obesity and the amount of overweight individuals in the Aboriginal population. Food insecurity rates in these populations are 3 times higher compared to non-aboriginals (Health Canada, 2012). According to the First Nations Information Governance Centre (2012), approximately 29.9% of 12-17 year olds living on reserve are overweight and 12.8% are obese. This is of concern because obesity is one of the strongest risk factors for Type 2 Diabetes, a chronic disease in which Aboriginals are genetically susceptible to. Although there are many factors to consider when examining causes of obesity in aboriginal populations, it is important to consider the effect food insecurity has on these populations. Many of these individuals are not able to afford healthy food choices such as fruits and vegetables and therefore purchase cheaper food...
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