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Experts say billions in savings could be at stake as party leaders debate Food Guide

Last Updated Jul 19, 2019 at 1:30 pm PST

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The food guide debate is not just about food - experts say a lot of your cash is at stake

Many researchers believe if Canadians improve their eating habits, it could lead to billions in savings

Some say the Canada Food Guide should also take socio-economic impacts into account

OTTAWA (NEWS 1130) – Billions of taxpayer dollars could be on the line in the debate over the new Canada Food Guide, experts say.

Many researchers believe if Canadians improve their eating habits, it could lead to big savings across the country.

Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer says he wants to review the new guide, claiming its focus on plant-based foods over meat and dairy is riddled with bias, while the Liberals say it’s based on science.

The Food Guide debate is not just about food. In fact, there is a lot of your cash at stake.

Paul Vuegelers, a professor at the school of public health at the University of Alberta, says their studies show chronic disease linked to unhealthy eating in Canada is costing the health care system.

“Our estimate is $13.8-billion per year,” he says.

Meantime, Dr. Yoni Freedhoff is not mincing words about his thoughts on the Conservative promise to revisit the changes to the guide.

“It’s intensely stupid,” Freedhoff, who specializes in obesity at the University of Ottawa, says. “If the diet of Canadians does not improve or gets worse, it will cost us a great deal of money.”

However, the guide could impact industry, and Sylvain Charlebois, professor in food distribution at Dalhousie University, says he doesn’t agree with Tories on everything, but he does believe jobs and food affordability should be taken into account.

“These recommendations are supported by science and research, but there are societal implications,” he notes.

He does agree with the Conservatives’ call for review, saying it should be done every five years.

“What we think is right today may not be right tomorrow,” Charlebois says.

Some say the Food Guide is about health, and only health should be considered.

“We’re talking about health — that matters more than whether or not this is going to be a challenge for the food industry,” Freedhoff adds.

He believes the food industry will adapt.