A number of studies have pointed to the pressure that housing costs can exert on the resources available for food. The objectives of the present study were to characterise the relationship between the proportion of income absorbed by housing and the adequacy of household food expenditures across the Canadian population and within income quintiles; and to elucidate the impact of receipt of a housing subsidy on adequacy of food expenditures among low-income tenant households.
The 2001 Survey of Household Spending, conducted by Statistics Canada, was a national cross-sectional survey that collected detailed information on expenditures on goods and services. The adequacy of food spending was assessed in relation to the cost of a basic nutritious diet.
The person with primary responsibility for financial maintenance from 15 535 households from all provinces and territories.
As the proportion of income allocated to housing increased, food spending adequacy declined significantly among households in the three lowest income quintiles. After accounting for household income and composition, receipt of a housing subsidy was associated with an improvement in adequacy of food spending among low-income tenant households, but still mean food spending fell below the cost of a basic nutritious diet even among subsidised households.
This study indicates that housing costs compromise the food access of some low-income households and speaks to the need to re-examine policies related to housing affordability and income adequacy.
To examine the associations of adiposity, dietary restraint and other personal characteristics with energy reporting quality.
Secondary analysis of 230 women and 158 men from the 1997/98 Ontario Food Survey.
Energy reporting quality was estimated by ratios of energy intake (EI) to both basal metabolic rate (BMR) and total energy expenditure (TEE). Multivariate regression analyses were conducted to examine energy reporting quality between two dietary recalls and in relation to body mass index (BMI) with adjustment for potential confounders. Energy reporting quality was explored across categories of age, BMI, income, education, dieting status and food insecurity through analysis of variance (ANOVA).
From the ANOVA, energy reporting quality was associated with BMI group, age category and weight loss for men and women, as well as with education among women (P 0.05). EI:BMR and EI:TEE on the first and second 24-hour recalls were positively related (P
This study assesses the affordability of a nutritious diet for households in Toronto that are supported by welfare.
For three hypothetical households, welfare incomes were compared to the monthly costs for food, shelter, and other essential expenditures in Toronto.
If households lived in market rental accommodation, average monthly incomes were insufficient to cover expenses for the single-person household and two-parent family, and barely adequate for the single-parent family considered in this study. However, the single-parent family's actual income fell below expenses for six months of the year. For households with children, the relative inadequacy of welfare increased as children grew older. Living in rent-geared-to-income housing afforded substantial financial advantage, but the welfare income of single-person households was still insufficient to meet basic needs.
These findings indicate discrepancies between welfare incomes and costs of basic needs, which may explain the vulnerability of welfare recipients to food insecurity.
Over the past two decades, Canada has witnessed a proliferation of community-based initiatives providing charitable meals to homeless and under-housed individuals. The existing research has raised concerns about the ability of such initiatives to meet users' nutrient needs. As part of a study of Toronto meal programs, open-ended interviews with program coordinators and observations of 16 meal programs were conducted to provide insight into the nutritional vulnerability of program users. Analysis using ethnographic methods revealed that, although charitable meal programs began in response to concerns about unmet food needs, the planning and delivery of meals are disconnected from the dietary needs of program users. Food was often a secondary service, designed to fit within the existing operations, resources, and mandate of the host agency. This work adds to calls for a rethinking of current responses to problems of hunger and food insecurity among individuals living in poverty in Canada.
A secondary analysis of data from a study of nutritional vulnerability among 153 women in families seeking charitable food assistance was undertaken to estimate the extent and nutritional significance of at-home food preparation activity for these women. At-home food preparation was estimated from women's reported food intakes from three 24-hour recalls. The relationships between food preparation and energy and nutrient intake, food intake, and 30-day household food security status were characterized. Almost all participants (97%) consumed foods prepared from scratch at least once during the three days of observation; 57% did so each day. Both the frequency and complexity of at-home food preparation were positively related to women's energy and nutrient intakes and their consumption of fruits and vegetables, grain products, and meat and alternates. The intakes by women in households with food insecurity with hunger reflected less complex food preparation but no less preparation from scratch than women in households where hunger was not evident, raising questions about the extent to which food skills can protect very poor families from food insecurity and hunger. Our findings indicate the need for nutrition professionals to become effective advocates for policy reforms to lessen economic constraints on poor households.
Although the sociodemographic characteristics of food-insecure households have been well documented, there has been little examination of neighbourhood characteristics in relation to this problem. In the present study we examined the association between household food security and neighbourhood features including geographic food access and perceived neighbourhood social capital.
Cross-sectional survey and mapping of discount supermarkets and community food programmes.
Twelve high-poverty neighbourhoods in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
Respondents from 484 low-income families who had children and who lived in rental accommodations.
Food insecurity was pervasive, affecting two-thirds of families with about a quarter categorized as severely food insecure, indicative of food deprivation. Food insecurity was associated with household factors including income and income source. However, food security did not appear to be mitigated by proximity to food retail or community food programmes, and high rates of food insecurity were observed in neighbourhoods with good geographic food access. While low perceived neighbourhood social capital was associated with higher odds of food insecurity, this effect did not persist once we accounted for household sociodemographic factors.
Our findings raise questions about the extent to which neighbourhood-level interventions to improve factors such as food access or social cohesion can mitigate problems of food insecurity that are rooted in resource constraints. In contrast, the results reinforce the importance of household-level characteristics and highlight the need for interventions to address the financial constraints that underlie problems of food insecurity.
Community-based charitable food assistance programs have recently been established in several affluent nations to distribute public and corporate food donations to 'the needy'. In Canada, food banks comprise the primary response to hunger and food insecurity, but problems of unmet food need persist. We conducted an ethnographic study of food bank work in southern Ontario to examine the functioning of these extra-governmental, charitable food assistance programs in relation to problems of unmet need. Our results suggest that the limited, variable and largely uncontrollable supply of food donations shaped the ways in which food assistance was defined and the practices that governed its distribution. Workers framed the food assistance as a supplement or form of acute hunger relief, but generally acknowledged that the food given was insufficient to fully meet the needs of those who sought assistance. In response to supply limitations, workers restricted both the frequency with which individual clients could receive assistance and the amount and selection of food that they received on any one occasion. Food giving was essentially a symbolic gesture, with the distribution of food assistance dissociated from clients' needs and unmet needs rendered invisible. We conclude that, structurally, food banks lack the capacity to respond to the food needs of those who seek assistance. Moreover, the invisibility of unmet need in food banks provides little impetus for either community groups or government to seek solutions to this problem.
Analyses of cross-sectional population survey data in Canada and the United States have indicated that household food insecurity is associated with poorer self-rated health and multiple chronic conditions. The causal inference has been that household food insecurity contributes to poorer health, but there has been little consideration of how adults' health status may relate to households' vulnerability to food insecurity. Our objectives were to examine how the presence of an adult with one or more chronic physical or mental health conditions affects the odds of a household being food insecure and how the chronic ill-health of an adult within a food-insecure household affects the severity of that household's food insecurity. Using household- and respondent-level data available for 77,053 adults aged 18-64 y from the 2007-2008 Canadian Community Health Survey, we applied logistic regression analyses, controlling for household sociodemographic characteristics, to examine the association between health and household food insecurity. Most chronic conditions increased the odds of household food insecurity independent of household sociodemographic characteristics. Compared with adults with no chronic condition, the odds of household food insecurity were 1.43 (95% CI: 1.28, 1.59), 1.86 (95% CI: 1.62, 2.14), and 3.44 (95% CI: 3.02, 3.93) for adults with 1, 2, and 3 or more chronic conditions, respectively. Among food-insecure households, adults with multiple chronic conditions had higher odds of severe household food insecurity than adults with no chronic condition. The chronic ill-health of adults may render their households more vulnerable to food insecurity. This has important practice implications for health professionals who can identify and assist those at risk, but it also suggests that appropriate chronic disease management may reduce the prevalence and severity of food insecurity.
Although supplement use is prevalent in North America, there is little information on how supplements affect the prevalence of nutrient adequacy or risk of intakes greater than the tolerable upper intake level (UL). The objectives of this study were to compare the prevalence of nutrient adequacy and percent of intakes greater than the UL from diet alone between supplement users and nonusers and determine the contribution of supplements to nutrient intakes. Dietary intakes (24-h recall) and supplement use (previous 30 d) from respondents =1 y in the Canadian Community Health Survey 2.2 (n = 34,381) were used to estimate the prevalence of nutrient adequacy and intakes greater than the UL. Software for Intake Distribution Evaluation was used to estimate usual intakes. The prevalence of nutrient adequacy from diet alone was not significantly higher among supplement users than nonusers for any nutrient. Based on diet alone, children 1-13 y had a low prevalence of nutrient adequacy (30%. For other nutrients, there was a low prevalence of nutrient adequacy. There were no nutrient intakes greater than the UL from diet alone, except zinc in children. When supplements were included, =10% of users in some age/sex groups had intakes of vitamins A and C, niacin, folic acid, iron, zinc, and magnesium greater than the UL, reaching >80% for vitamin A and niacin in children. In conclusion, from diet alone, the prevalence of nutrient adequacy was low for most nutrients except for calcium, magnesium, and vitamins A and D. For most nutrients, supplement users were not at greater risk of inadequacy than nonusers; supplement use sometimes led to intakes greater than the UL.
To examine the effect of the new Canadian labelling regulations on the fat composition and prices of margarines.
A survey of all margarines sold in major supermarkets in the Greater Toronto area was conducted in 2006, and results were compared with those of a similar survey conducted in 2002. Average fat composition, proportion of 'trans fat-free' margarines and average prices of margarines were compared. A general linear model procedure was used to compare the relationship between price and fat composition in 2002 and 2006.
Average amounts of trans fatty acids (TFA) and MUFA decreased, while average amounts of PUFA increased significantly from 2002 to 2006. The proportion of margarines with less than 0.2 g TFA/10 g serving rose significantly from 31 % in 2002 to 69 % in 2006. Margarines lower in TFA on average cost significantly more than margarines with greater amounts of these fats, and this relationship appeared stronger in 2006 relative to 2002.
There is evidence of reductions in TFA in margarines since new labelling regulations came into effect in Canada; however, TFA reductions appeared to be restricted to higher-priced margarines. Results suggest that voluntary approaches (i.e. manufacturer incentives via labelling) to reduce population intakes of TFA will yield little changes in TFA content of low-cost products and thus may have limited benefit for lower-income groups, who are at higher risk of heart disease.