Better health through better eating: A vital role for companies

MONTREAL, Dec. 12, 2012 /CNW Telbec/ - Although Quebecers recognize that they 
should eat healthier foods, most are unable to change their eating habits. 
Consequently, agri-food industry companies have a vital role to play in 
helping consumers improve their health. These are the two central findings to 
emerge from a Melior-led consultation among Quebecers and key players in 
health and nutrition on the first anniversary of the Melior program. 
Healthcare stakeholders: well-entrenched habits are hard to change...
Eating habits are often associated with health problems. To better understand 
the perceptions of health professionals in this area, Ipsos Marketing 
organized a Melior discussion group among nurses, as well as six individual 
interviews with general practitioners. The main findings are as follows: 

    --  Eating habits are increasingly on the radar of healthcare
    --  These health professionals do not perceive themselves as THE
    --  Patients are the link between health and nutrition
    --  Changes in eating habits are difficult for most patients
    --  Nutrition labels are hard to understand
    --  Improving health with better quality foods requires a concerted
        effort from all stakeholders, including businesses

It is clear that while Quebecers recognize that they should eat better, they 
are unable to change their eating habits. Furthermore, most healthcare 
practitioners admit that they do not address preventive nutrition in depth due 
to a lack of time and because they believe the task is better suited to other 
stakeholders such as nutritionists. According to one doctor surveyed : "The 
industry has a role to play and must guide consumers toward making informed 

General public consult nutritional labels…mostly for calories
According to a survey conducted by Ipsos Marketing in October:
    --  63 per cent of Quebecers read nutrition labels mainly to
        ascertain the amount of calories in a product
    --  Only 11 per cent of respondents consulted nutrition labels for
        sodium content first, even though reducing the daily intake of
        sodium by 6 grams decreases deaths related to cardiovascular
        disease(1) by 18 per cent

Most respondents, however, are open to consuming products with sodium reduced 
and sugar reduced to minimize the negative impacts on their health. Quebecers, 
for example, would consume reduced-sodium chips (61%) and canned soup (61%) as 
well as reduced-sugar cereals (65%) cream and frozen yogurt (60%).

"This snapshot confirms that most people know what is needed to improve their 
health through better eating, but that changing behaviours is often difficult. 
It also illustrates how the role of the food industry in offering healthier 
products is vital to improving the health of Quebecers," explained Annick Van 
Campenhout, CEO of The Council for Food Progress Initiatives (CFPI), the 
organization that manages the Melior program. "Retailer shelf space offers 
little room for expansion. It's not just about adding new products; it's about 
making existing products better. Improving existing products promotes better 
eating without modifying consumer behaviours."

The Melior indicator: the progress of participating companies
After only a year in existence, five companies (Pacini, Commensal & Cie, IGA, 
Nutrifrance and Compass Group) have already joined the program. In France, by 
contrast, it took more than a year and a half before signing the first company.

To promote program thoroughness, Melior launched the Melior Indicator, a 
measurement tool that lets people follow the progress of companies involved in 
this new form of social responsibility by visiting Today, for example, 
the Indicator shows that Pacini has already met its commitment to offering 
whole wheat pasta.

"We are very proud to already have the involvement of five companies from all 
sectors of the industry. The companies we met with are open to the program and 
recognize that they have an important role to play. We anticipate more 
companies joining the program in the coming weeks," concluded Ms. Van 

Companies that participate in the Melior program have made voluntary 
commitments to improve the nutritional value of their products.

About Melior
The Melior program, from the Latin meliorare, meaning "to improve," is a 
Quebec initiative aiming to stimulate food progress and to help improve the 
food supply in Quebec. The Melior program is designed to help agri-food 
industry members create charters of voluntary commitments toward nutritional 
progress. Inspired by a similar model implemented in France, it is the first 
initiative of its kind in North America and is fully adapted to Quebec 

This initiative is made possible by the financial support of Québec en Forme.

(1 )World Action on Salt and Health (WASH)

For information and interviews: Vanessa Roland 514966-8963 
SOURCE: Melior 
To view this news release in HTML formatting, please use the following URL: 
CO: Conseil des initiatives pour le progrès en alimentation
ST: Quebec
-0- Dec/12/2012 12:30 GMT
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