Are the 2019 Canada's Food Guide Recommendations on Healthy Food Choices Consistent with the EAT-Lancet Reference Diet from Sustainable Food Systems?

J Nutr. 2024 Apr;154(4):1368-1375. doi: 10.1016/j.tjnut.2024.02.012. Epub 2024 Feb 16.


Background: The diet proposed by the EAT-Lancet Commission, which supports both health and environmental sustainability, provides an opportunity to assess the sustainability of food-based dietary guidelines.

Objectives: The primary objective was to assess the alignment of the 2019 Canada's Food Guide (CFG) with the EAT-Lancet diet. To do so, an index assessing adherence to the EAT-Lancet diet was developed and evaluated.

Methods: Data from 1147 adults were used from the cross-sectional PRÉDicteurs Individuals, Sociaux et Environnementaux (PREDISE) study conducted between 2015 and 2017 in the province of Québec. The EAT-Lancet Dietary Index (EAT-I) was developed to evaluate adherence to the EAT-Lancet diet. Adherence to the 2019 CFG was assessed using the Healthy Eating Food Index (HEFI)-2019. Associations between the HEFI-2019 score and component scores and the EAT-I score were examined using linear regression models.

Results: The mean EAT-I score (/80) in this population was 33.4 points [95% confidence interval (CI): 32.2, 34.6]. EAT-I scores were consistent with expected differences in diet quality between females and males (+6.9 points, 95% CI: 4.8, 9.0) and between adults aged 50-65 y and 18-34 y (+4.3 points, 95% CI: 1.6, 7.0). The mean HEFI-2019 (/80) score was 44.9 points (95% CI: 44.1, 45.7). The HEFI-2019 was strongly associated with the EAT-I (ß = 0.76, 95% CI: 0.72, 0.80). Among the 10 components of the HEFI-2019, components such as the whole-grain foods (ß =4.01, 95% CI: 3.49, 4.52), grain foods ratio (ß =3.65, 95% CI: 3.24, 4.07), plant-based protein foods (ß =2.41, 95% CI: 2.03, 2.78), and fatty acids ratio (ß =3.12, 95% CI: 2.72, 3.51) showed the strongest associations with the EAT-I.

Conclusions: These results suggest that recommendations in the 2019 CFG are largely coherent with the EAT-Lancet diet underscoring the complementarity and compatibility of the 2019 CFG for sustainability and health promotion purposes.

Keywords: environment; food policies; food-based dietary guidelines; health; sustainability.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Diet*
  • Diet, Healthy
  • Female
  • Food*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Quebec