Health Reports

A Canadian peer-reviewed journal of population health and health services research

February 2022

A pan-Canadian dataset of neighbourhood retail food environment measures using Statistics Canada’s Business Register

by Andrew C. Stevenson, Clara Kaufmann, Rachel C. Colley, Leia M. Minaker, Michael J. Widener, Thomas Burgoine, Claudia Sanmartin and Nancy A. Ross

The retail food environment is a modifiable component of the built environment with the potential to contribute to improvements in the diets of Canadians at the population level. The retail food environment is defined by geographic access to different types of retail food sources, including restaurants and food stores. Unfavourable neighbourhood retail food environments, characterized by neighbourhoods with an overabundance of less healthy food stores or a scarcity of healthier food stores, are a target for intervention because they can be a contributing factor to poor diet quality. In Canada, neighbourhoods with easy access to healthier food options or limited access to less healthy food options have been associated with healthier diets, lower body mass index (BMI) and lower risks of Type 2 diabetes. However, measurement error regarding both food environments and either diet or health outcomes has generated inconsistent findings.

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Household food insecurity in Canada early in the COVID-19 pandemic

by Jane Y. Polsky and Didier Garriguet

Food insecurity, or insecure or inadequate access to food because of financial constraints, is a potent determinant of health in Canada and other high-income nations. Food insecurity has been shown to be consistently associated with a range of physical and mental health problems, and with increased health care costs for adults. Certain groups are more vulnerable to food insecurity, including households with children, lone-parent families and individuals whose main source of income is government assistance. In 2017/2018, the last time that household food security status was assessed at the national level as part of the Canadian Community Health Survey (CCHS), 12.7% of Canadian households, or 1.8 million households, reported having experienced some level of food insecurity during the previous 12 months.

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Related articles

Household food insecurity in Canada early in the COVID-19 pandemic

  • Polsky JY, Gilmour H. Food insecurity and mental health during the COVID-19 pandemic. Health Reports 2020; 31(12): 3-11. DOI: 10.25318/82-003-x202001200001-eng
  • Statistics Canada. Household Food Insecurity, 2017/2018 (Catalogue 82-625-X). Ottawa: Statistics Canada, 2020. Available at:
  • Statistics Canada. Food Insecurity During the COVID-19 Pandemic, May 2020 (Catalogue 45280001). Ottawa: Statistics Canada, 2020. Available at:
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