Since the 1960's, marked sociocultural and economic changes have affected lifestyle, religious practices, and family structure among French Canadians in Quebec. Recent nutritional assessment was unavailable, despite indications of change.
A survey was carried out in 1988 in a representative sample living in Greater Montreal, to obtain current data on food habits, nutrient intakes and sociodemographic factors, using interviewer-administered questionnaires and seven-day food records.
Some 845 families (1450 individuals from different age groups) were studied in two phases: summer/fall and winter/spring. Mean household size in the study population was 2.7. Among adults, extremes of educational level were observed, with 33% having elementary school only and 28% having completed university. On average, each household spent $CAN 89.90 a week for food, $26.00 for tobacco, and $13.50 for alcohol. Breakfast was eaten regularly by 90% of subjects while 96% ate lunch and 99% ate dinner. Morning snacks were consumed by 36% and afternoon snacks were taken by 50%. Milk was consumed with breakfast by 24% of respondents, with lunch by 19%, and with dinner by 24%. On weekdays, 81% of subjects ate their main meals at home, while on weekends this figure was 95%. Time spent for meals varied by meal, and was slightly longer on weekends. Specialty diets, including vegetarianism, were followed by 7% of the study subjects, while 22% adhered to health-related diets.
The food record analyses revealed adequate nutrient intakes overall in relation to the 1990 Canadian Recommended Nutrient Intakes, although further investigation is needed before addressing dietary quality in specific age-sex groups. Protein comprised 16% of energy, fat 38%, and carbohydrates composed 45% or 46% for males and females, respectively. Subsequent analyses will evaluate nutrient intakes in relation to health and sociodemographic indicators in this population.