Public and policymakers’ perceptions of healthy eating in Canada

Access survey data on Canadians’ perceptions of healthy eating habits and the level of support for various policy interventions that promote healthy eating

Inside this healthy eating policy pack

How do the public and policy makers perceive this issue?

Survey data from 2013 show that 46% of Canadians report their eating habits as “very good or excellent”.1,2

  • However, given that only 30% of Canadians aged 12 and older reported that they had consumed fruits and vegetables five or more times per day,1 perceptions of what constitutes healthy eating habits may not reflect recommended behaviours shown to reduce the risk of cancer.

Data from Quebec found that residents generally support (63%) a tax on sugar-sweetened beverages, especially if the revenues were reinvested to prevent obesity and chronic disease (2017, IPSOS poll for Coalition Poids, from a representative sample of 1,000 Francophone and Anglophone respondents in Quebec, aged 18 and over).

  • Since 2010, the proposal of taxation with a reinvestment in prevention has obtained support between 63% to 79% in repeated polls.

More information on product labels about the amount of sugar were supported by 91% of those polled in Quebec (2016 Ipsos poll for Coalition Poids)

Surveys of policy-makers in Alberta and Manitoba show high rates of support for the use of zoning restrictions to regulate unhealthy food in the vicinity of schools and for taxing unhealthy food and beverage purchases, among other potential policy actions.3,4


1 Roblin L, Smith D, Purno N, Mehandra A. Healthy Eating in Ontario: What Do We Know? An Analysis of Eating Behaviours, Food Literacy and Food Insecurity Indicators. Toronto (ON): Nutrition Resource Centre, Ontario Public Health Association; 2017.

2 Schermel A, Mendoza J, Henson S, Dukeshire S, Pasut L, et al. (2014) Canadians’ Perceptions of Food, Diet, and Health – A National Survey. PLOS ONE 9(1): e86000.

3 Alberta Policy Coalition for cancer Prevention (APCCP). (2011). 2011 Decision maker survey of knowledge, attitudes & beliefs: Summary of results. Retrieved from:

4 Raine, K., Nykiforuk, C. I. J., Vu-Nguyen, K., Nieuwendyk, L. M., VanSpronsen, E., Reed, S. & Wild, C. T. (2014). Understanding key influencers’ attitudes and beliefs about healthy public policy change for obesity prevention.  Obesity, 22. doi:10.1002/oby.20860.