Tue. Sep 17th, 2019

Quebecers are eating too many empty calories, nutritional study suggests

2 min read

“We depend on ready-to-eat meals, we’ve lost some of our ability to feed ourselves … to cook our own meals, to eat together as a family.”

Quebecers like their pastries, alcohol, sweets, potato chips, popcorn and sugary soft drinks, an online study by Laval University made public Wednesday suggests.

Research results published in the Nutrition Journal by Benoît Lamarche of the university’s École de nutrition found that nearly a third of the calories consumed daily by all Quebecers comes from food of low nutritional benefit. Worse still, those empty calories count for about 38 per cent of the daily nutritional needs of about 25 per cent of the population.

“The overall quality of the food is not ideal. There is a significant proportion of Quebecers who have difficulties in eating well, but it’s not exclusively their fault,” said Lamarche. “It’s also closely linked to the habits we have, to the food choices that are offered, to the access to healthy foods.

“There are a lot of factors, but the result is, yes, in the adult population of Quebec there is a large proportion of calories that are coming from food of low nutritional value.”

The main types of low-nutrition foods consumed by Quebecers are pastries (18 per cent), alcohol (15 per cent), sweets (13 per cent), chips and popcorn (6 per cent) and sugary soft drinks (6 per cent).

Lamarche and his team of researchers found that low nutritional food consumption was slightly higher among Quebec men (31 per cent) than women (28 per cent) and that most of that consumption took place during dinner (41 per cent) and snacks (23 per cent).

“I tend to think that the pace of daily life has led us to be more and more distracted,” said Lamarche. “We’ve lost our consciousness of the importance of food. We’ve also collectively lost our ability to be independent when it comes to eating. We depend on ready-to-eat meals, we’ve lost some of our ability to feed ourselves … to cook our own meals, to eat together as a family. … All that points us toward a selection of foods that are not necessarily ideal.”

Lamarche said similar findings had been gathered in other studies elsewhere in the world.

The Laval University study used an online survey to examine the eating habits of 1,147 adults living in five regions of Quebec. On three occasions participants had to fill out a form listing what they had eaten in the previous 24 hours.

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