Perceptions of the 2019 Canada's Food Guide: a qualitative study with parents from Southwestern Ontario

Appl Physiol Nutr Metab. 2021 Aug 19;1-7. doi: 10.1139/apnm-2021-0414. Online ahead of print.


In January 2019, Health Canada released a revised Canada's Food Guide (CFG). This study aimed to understand the perceptions of the 2019 CFG among Canadian parents with children aged 2-12 years. From October 2019-January 2020, 8 focus groups with parents from Southwestern Ontario were conducted using a semi-structured interview script focused on understanding perceptions of the 2019 CFG. A hybrid thematic approach with inductive and deductive analyses was used. Forty parents (72.5% mothers, 77.5% white) with diverse levels of education and income participated. Most parents were aware of the 2019 CFG. Positive perceptions of the 2019 CFG were that the guide was visually appealing and less biased from the food industry compared with previous guides. Parents also reported that the focus on eating behaviours could support healthy eating among their families. Negative perceptions included insufficient information about plant-based proteins, removal of milk and alternatives food group, and lack of representation of various cultures in the guide. Challenges to following the CFG recommendations, including time constraints and limited knowledge regarding how to identify and prepare plant-based proteins, were discussed. Parent perceptions of the CFG can help inform public health policies and behavioural-change strategies designed to support adherence to the 2019 CFG recommendations. Novelty: Awareness of the 2019 Canada's Food Guide (CFG) was high. Parents identified that the 2019 CFG was visually appealing and less biased from the food industry. Concerns about the recommendations of plant-based proteins, "exclusion" of dairies, and lack of cultural representation.

Keywords: Canada’s Food Guide; Guide alimentaire canadien; alimentation saine; focus groups; groupes de discussion; healthy eating; meals; parents; perceptions; repas.