Higher food prices could have long-term negative consequences for Canadians’ health


Recent high food price inflation has hit many Canadian households, especially those with tighter budgets. Statistics Canada reported in October that retail food prices rose faster than the consumer price index for all items for the 11th consecutive month.

The Ontario Student Nutrition Program, which feeds 28,000 students in 93 participating schools, has been hit hard by inflation and needs more funding and volunteers. A school breakfast used to cost $1.20, now more than $2.

A recent survey by the non-profit Angus Reid Institute found that nearly 60 percent of Canadians struggle to feed their families. If they can afford to buy food, many people can’t buy enough, or buy the food they want.

They skip meals, eat low-quality out-of-date food, visit various supermarkets to find cheaper alternatives, resulting in inadequate nutrition. A Dalhousie University survey of 5,000 Canadians found that 23.6 percent of the population cut back on food purchases and 7.1 percent skipped meals because of inflation.

spending too much money on food

In general, moderate inflation is not bad. The Bank of Canada aims for an inflation rate of two percent – ​​​​​​the midpoint of its one and three percent range. The Bank of Canada influences inflation by manipulating interest rates.

However, today’s high inflation is different – ​​the Bank of Canada has itself recognized this. In a recent speech, Central Bank Governor Tiff McCallum said, “High inflation is making life more difficult for Canadians, especially those on low or fixed incomes.”

Food, shelter and transportation account for more than 60 percent of a family’s expenses. If only food prices were subject to high inflation, households could divert income from shelter and transportation to cover it. For now, however, high inflation is spreading across all three areas, meaning Canadians are struggling to keep food on the table, a roof over their heads and transportation.

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According to the Consumer Price Index, food, shelter and transportation account for more than 60 percent of household expenditures. (Statistics Canada), author provided

The amount of money that middle incomes spend on transport and food makes them vulnerable. But the recent rise in interest rates isn’t helping even low-income earners. Canadians spend the majority of their income (about a third) on keeping a roof over their heads. The recent rise in interest rates on loans has pushed up housing costs.

Canada’s Food Prices Report shows that Canadians historically spend less than 10 percent of their income on food. But that has changed: Canadians now spend 16 percent of their income on food. The report also states that the food inflation index has risen faster than general inflation over the past 20 years. The price of a typical grocery bill has increased by 70 percent between 2000 and 2020.

Canadian health patients

An important side effect of rising food prices is the impact on health and nutrition. When the cost of food rises, it limits the availability of nutritious food for low-income people. Ultimately, this could lead to long-term effects on human health and put additional strain on Canada’s already-stressed healthcare system.

According to research from the University of Toronto, an unsafe food supply increases susceptibility to a variety of diseases and health problems, including infectious diseases, poor oral health, injuries and chronic conditions such as depression and anxiety, heart disease, high blood pressure, arthritis and chronic pain. Is. ,

Historically, Canadians spend less than 10 percent of their income on food. But due to inflation and the rising cost of living, Canadians now spend 16 percent of their income on food. The Canadian Press/Graham Hughes

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Similarly, a study by researchers at the Harvard Center for Population and Development Studies found that diet, especially in the postnatal stage, is the most important factor influencing human development. This indicates that low adult height in low- and middle-income countries is related to environmental factors such as diet.

We need to pay special attention to food price inflation as it can have long-term effects on the physical and mental health of future generations. Our children are our future – we have no room to compromise on their food and nutrition. Malnourished children of today will result in a malnourished nation of tomorrow.

requires a coordinated effort

It is necessary to make policy makers and governments aware of this disastrous situation so that they can take the necessary measures to cope with rising food prices. Governments and policymakers must ensure that Canadians have access to affordable, nutritious food.

As a short-term solution, Canadians should consider buying seasonal and frozen foods, growing their own food and replacing meat with legumes. To address food price inflation from a systemic perspective, policymakers should index social benefits to inflation as soon as possible to avoid unexpected increases in food prices for social assistance recipients.

Finally, companies should not capitalize on people’s desperation by driving up food prices. Canada’s three largest supermarket chains have been making huge profits lately. They can use this benefit to offset some of the costs of food price inflation. There is no silver bullet to effectively tackle high food price inflation, but it requires a coordinated effort from all stakeholders – governments, businesses and households.

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