85% of Canadians Say Their Eating Habits Need Some Improvement: Ipsos Reid Poll

To Improve Their Fitness Levels, Seven in Ten (68%) Have Changed their Eating Habits in the Last Year

February 25, 2009 Toronto, ON – A new Ipsos Reid poll conducted on behalf of Dietitians of Canada has revealed that many Canadians admit to needing improvement when it comes to their eating habits. Eighty-five percent ‘agree’ (27% strongly/58% somewhat) that their eating habits could use ‘some improvement’ and fully one half (50%) of Canadians ‘agree’ (17% strongly/33% somewhat) that their eating habits need a ‘lot of improvement’.

  • Residents of Saskatchewan and Manitoba (57%) are most likely to believe that their eating habits need a lot of work, compared with those in Atlantic Canada (55%), Alberta (50%), Quebec (50%), British Columbia (49%) and Ontario (48%).
    Canadians appear to understand that what they eat can help them in leading a healthy life. Eight in ten (78%) ‘agree’ (31% strongly/47% somewhat) that their ‘eating habits will help them live a long and healthy life’. However, four in ten (43%) suggest that their ‘eating habits are probably hurting their overall health’.
  • Atlantic Canadians (50%) are most inclined to suggest that their eating habits are probably hurting their health, while residents of Saskatchewan and Manitoba (47%), Ontario (46%), British Columbia (41%), Alberta (40%) and Quebec (39%) are less likely to think that this is the case.
  • Men (48%) are more likely than women (39%) to believe that their eating habits are hurting their health.
  • Middle-aged Canadians (47%), aged 35 to 54, are more likely than their younger, aged 18-34, (44%) or older counterparts, over 55 (38%) to say that this applies to them.
    Perhaps a result of knowing the importance of eating healthily, and the apparent lack of some to be doing so, a majority (56%) of Canadians ‘agree’ (14% strongly/42% somewhat) that they ‘spend a lot of time trying to improve their eating habits’. Furthermore, seven in ten (68%) say that over the last year, they have changed their eating habits in an effort to improve their fitness level.
  • Women (72%) have a higher propensity than men (65%) to say they’ve changed their eating habits in the last year.

Among those who indicate that they have made changes to their eating habits to improve their fitness level, 39% say the most notable change they have made is eating better quality food. Others say the most notable change in habits they have made is cutting out junk food (26%), while 17% are simply eating an amount of food that matches their energy output (17%). Of the remaining respondents who have made changes to their eating habits, 15% are eating less food, overall, while 3% say that they are eating more food, overall, in order to improve their fitness level.

Thinking about nutrition and healthy eating for an active lifestyle, most (91%) Canadians ‘agree’ (40% strongly/50% somewhat) that ‘when and what they eat and drink can help them get the most from their workout’. Similarly, eight in ten (82%) believe that ‘following Canada’s Food Guide helps them meet energy and nutrient needs to fuel an active lifestyle’.

What Canadians apparently do not need are stimulants, muscle-building or weight-loss supplements, with eight in ten (81%) ‘agreeing’ (52% strongly/29% somewhat) that these ‘are not needed to get the most out of their activity or to gain muscle or lose weight’. In a similar vein, just 13% ‘agrees’ (2% strongly/12% somewhat) that ‘downing an energy drink on the way to the gym is the best way to keep their energy-levels up during a workout’. Most (87%) ‘disagree’ (46% strongly/41% somewhat) with this idea.

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