Alberta Makes the Food-Health ConnectionWednesday, October 22, 2008
This month, the Alberta Government presented a Framework for Innovation called “Making the Food-Health Connection“. The document was developed under the direction of the Alberta LIfe Sciences Institute in collaboration with the Alberta Ministries of Advanced Education and Technology, Health and Wellness and Agriculture and Rural Development.
The report articulates the overarching provincial approach to increase innovation in health and food.
The vision, as outlined in the document, is to allow Albertans to benefit from producing and eating food that makes them healthier and to allow Alberta businesses participate in the global market place for healthy food products.
A key element of the approach is to make healthy food choices affordable and readily available for purchase and consumption.
The document acknowledges that “While Albertans live in a rich province, many are unable to eat healthfully [sic] for economic reasons or lack the understanding of what constitutes good nutrition”
Specifically, the document states that, “There is also a growing number of overweight or obese Albertans, who may benefit from information on healthy eating and active living to help them address their growing waistlines and become healthier”.
“Morbidity and mortality associate with chronic conditions linked to unhealthy weights would be delayed (by improving knowledge in healthy eating habits), allowing for increased productivity, and prolonged quality of life”.
Less obesity would reduce the pressure on the health system with a reduction in joint replacements, cardiovascular surgery and cancer treatments.
The Innovation Framework foresees that Albertans will benefit from producing and eating food that makes them healthier and the Alberta businessess will participate in the global market place for healthy food products.
While I am very pleased to see the emphasis given to the importance of obesity in the document and the clear recognition that improving access to healthy foods is not only an opportunity to improve the health of Albertans but also a business opportunity for Albertan entrepreneurs, I do not think that a focus on food alone will be enough to reverse the obesity epidemic.
While healthy foods are an essential foundation for healthier lives, so is an environment that fosters physical activity, improves work-life balance, reduces stress levels and improves other aspects of mental health and well-being.
Lofty and highly commendable goals – let us hope that the implementation of these innovations are realised within the forseeable future.