Trending Topics pieces (Article Analyses, Evidence Clips and Other Topics) are published in timely response to recent media and journal articles, position statements, clinical guidelines, etc. Since they are based on the most recent evidence/publications, they may not be consistent with PEN evidence in other PEN content areas. As soon as possible, when this occurs, the PEN content will be reviewed and updated as needed.
Banning Trans Fat
Australia: See Trans Fat: How Does Australia Shape Up? and Trans Fatty Acids from Food Standards Australia New Zealand for more information.
Canada: Canada's Health Minister Ginette Petitpas Taylor announced the ban of partially hydrogenated oils in all foods sold in Canada. The ban will be enforced starting on September 15, 2018, to give the food industry a year to prepare. This ban will apply to all foods sold in Canada including imported products and foods prepared and served in restaurants and food service establishments. For more information see Health Canada's Backgrounder: Prohibiting the Main Source of Industrially Produced Trans Fat in Food and watch this free podcast: Canada's Trans Fat Ban with Dr. Mary Labbé.
United Kingdom: See U.K. Ban on Trans Fats 'Would save Thousands of Lives' and Trans Fat - Overview of Recent Developments from the European Parliament for more information.
Can an intentional nudge influence decision-making towards choosing a healthier dietary option? A recent study, The Efficacy of Nudge Theory Strategies in Influencing Adult Dietary Behaviour: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis in BioMed Central (BMC) Public Health, says it can. Nudge theory, or 'nudge' proposed by Thaler and Sunstein (2008) in their book, Nudge: Improving Decisions About Health, Wealth and Happiness, is based on providing indirect suggestions that guide voluntary shifts in behaviour towards choosing the healthier option. The BMC review assessed nudge effectiveness as a strategy in influencing adults (a generic population of men and women; 18-65 years) to change their dietary choices from unhealthy (foods high in fat, salt or sugar) for healthier ones (more nutrient dense, i.e. the consumption or purchase of more vegetables, fruit and whole grains; and lower in calories, salt, sugar, cholesterol or fat). The researchers systematically searched and quantitatively assessed (meta-analysis) 42 studies (31 RCT; two cohort; and nine cross-sectional) aimed at influencing behaviour related to food consumption. The interventions involved knowledge-based changes (e.g. menu labelling), availability of food (e.g. convenience or adjusting portion size), changes to the social environment or emotional priming. Most of the studies took place in a lab setting (48%) or in a cafeteria (17%) and were conducted predominantly in the U.S. The studies were analyzed based on their percent change in frequency of a choice or in the consumption/purchases made (outcome categories were calories, grams or purchases; either quantity purchased or monetary amount). The researchers found that, on average, nudge interventions lead to a 15.3% (95%CI, 7.6 to 23%) increase in healthier consumption/nutritional choices, as measured by the frequency of healthy choices or by overall intake of healthier food. While the generalizability of the findings is limited by the wide variety of interventions included and nudge-related research in more geographically and varied populations is needed, this paper provides some of the basics and justification for implementing nudging strategies into practice.
Obesity in Canada - A Whole-of-Society Approach for a Healthier Canada is a new report from the Senate Standing Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology. It includes 21 recommendations that call for a national campaign to fight obesity and urges the federal government to take aggressive measures to return Canadians to healthy weights and to make it easier for Canadians to make informed decisions about their diet. For information on the Dietitians of Canada involvement, see Media Release.
Federal Government Mandate
On November 13th the federal government released their ministerial mandate letters. Key points related to public health nutrition in the Minister of Health letter can be found at: http://pm.gc.ca/eng/minister-health-mandate-letter