Tracking nutrition trends – an update on Canadians’ eating habits

By: Sue Mah, RD

Since 1989, the Tracking Nutrition Trends (TNT) nutrition study has been following the self-reported food/nutrition knowledge, attitudes and behaviours of Canadians. The 2013 survey results have recently been released. Here are a few highlights from the report.

Good eating habits
77% of Canadians rate their eating habits as good to excellent. Just under a quarter (23%) of Canadians feel that their eating habits are fair or poor. People who have positive ratings for their eating habits also give high ratings for their overall health, and are more likely to be knowledgeable about nutrition. Canadians over the age of 65 are the most likely to rate their eating habits as good to excellent.

Dietary improvements
Nearly all Canadians say they have done something to improve or change their eating habits. 68% of Canadians reported that they’re trying to eat more vegetables and fruit. Other top dietary changes include: cutting back on salt and sodium, reducing sugar, reducing portion sizes, and eating more fibre.

Better at breakfast
In 2013, 63% of Canadians reported eating breakfast regularly, up from 58% in the previous TNT survey. An interesting regional difference is that residents of Quebec are more likely to eat breakfast compared to Canadians living in other provinces such as Ontario and Alberta. The majority (87% and 64%) of Canadians are also eating dinner and lunch daily.

Two snacks a day
Canadians say that they snack twice a day, and about four times a week. Both men and women under the age of 55 are more likely to snack everyday compared to those who are older.

Taste rules
Consistent with previous TNT studies, Canadians rank taste as the leading consideration when choosing food. Nutrition, cost, convenience/ease of preparation are other important considerations.

Protein priority
When deciding what to eat, the most important nutritional factor is whether the food contains protein. Canadians are also looking for foods that are low in saturated fat, low in salt/sodium, and a source of fibre.

The powerful peanut
When counseling your clients and in your educational messages, remember that peanuts and peanut butter are packed with nutrition. A serving (60 mL or ¼ cup) of dry roasted, unsalted peanuts is not only sodium free but also an excellent source of vitamin E and magnesium and a source of fibre and folate. A serving of peanut butter (30 mL or 2 tbsp) is also a good source of vitamin E, magnesium and folate. Both peanuts and peanut butter can add a delicious boost of protein at any meal and snack.


To order a copy of the full TNT report, go to the Canadian Foundation for Dietetic Research.


Source: Tracking Nutrition Trends Report, 2013