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Hospital cardiologist weighs in on food price inconsistencies

A St. Michael’s hospital cardiologist warns that healthy eating may be out of reach for many Canadians because of significant price differences across the country.

Toronto, February 18, 2009

fruit on display at a market Photo: Wikimedia

The Heart and Stroke Foundation’s Annual Report on Health revealed huge differences between the cost and accessibility of basic healthy food across Canada. Depending on where you live, some Canadians were paying more than double to six times the price for the same healthy food.

“Healthy eating is a key factor in preventing heart disease,” says St. Michael’s Hospital cardiologist and Heart and Stroke spokesperson Dr. Beth Abramson. “This report should serve as a wake-up call that healthy eating is in danger of being out of reach for many Canadians, a problem which may only get worse given the current downturn in the economy.”

The Foundation is calling on governments to monitor and periodically report on the price of core staples to ensure fair pricing and for food manufacturers, retailers and marketing boards to explore food pricing inconsistencies within and between communities in Canada.

The wide price variations in healthy foods is even more troubling when compared to the stable prices of pop, chips and cookies − foods Canada’s Food Guide recommends we consume less. The unhealthy snacks showed little price variation across the country.

“This can only encourage unhealthy eating behavior that will ultimately lead to obesity and risk factors for heart disease,” says Dr. Abramson.

A national poll conducted by the Heart and Stroke Foundation found that almost half (47%) of Canadians report going without fresh fruit, vegetables, dairy products, whole grain products, lean meat or fish because they are too expensive. Further, 68% of Canadians identified price as “extremely” or “very” important when choosing which items make it into their grocery cart.

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