Healthy food procurement and nutrition standards in public facilities: Evidence synthesis and consensus policy recommendations
Introduction: Unhealthy foods are widely available in public settings across Canada, contributing to diet-related chronic diseases, such as obesity. This is a concern given that public facilities often provide a significant amount of food for consumption by vulnerable groups, including children and seniors. Healthy food procurement policies, which support procuring, distributing, selling, and/or serving healthier foods, have recently emerged as a promising strategy to counter this public health issue by increasing access to healthier foods. Although numerous Canadian health and scientific organizations have recommended such policies, they have not yet been broadly implemented in Canada. Methods: To inform further policy action on healthy food procurement in a Canadian context, we: (1) conducted an evidence synthesis to assess the impact of healthy food procurement policies on health outcomes and sales, intake, and availability of healthier food, and (2) hosted a consensus conference in September 2014. The consensus conference invited experts with public health/nutrition policy research expertise, as well as health services and food services practitioner experience, to review evidence, share experiences, and develop a consensus statement/recommendations on healthy food procurement in Canada. Results: Findings from the evidence synthesis and consensus recommendations for healthy food procurement in Canada are described. Specifically, we outline recommendations for governments, publicly funded institutions, decision-makers and professionals, citizens, and researchers. Conclusion: Implementation of healthy food procurement policies can increase Canadians' access to healthier foods as part of a broader vision for food policy in Canada.