Journal of Public Health

, Volume 20, Issue 6, pp 639–652 | Cite as

Economic impact of adopting a healthy diet in Canada

  • Kakali MukhopadhyayEmail author
  • Paul J. Thomassin
Original Article



The study estimates the macroeconomic impacts of recent healthy diet guidelines announced by the Health Canada.

Subject and method

The study used a modified input–output framework based on the Canadian input–output data for the year 2004 to capture the impact on the whole economy due to changes in food consumption. The input–output method is one of the most widely applied methods in economics. The input–output framework analyzes the interdependence of industries in an economy. The basic information from which this framework is developed is contained in an input–output table. The rows of such a table describe the distribution of a producer's output throughout the economy. The columns of the table, on the other hand, describe the composition of inputs required by a particular industry to produce its output. Final demand indicates the sales by each sector to final markets for their production, such as household consumption purchases, sales to the government, and exports to the other countries. This method requires that a sector uses inputs in fixed proportions. The modified Input-Output table of Canada consists of a detailed agricultural sector provided by Agriculture and Agri-food Canada (AAFC). Several simulation exercises have been carried out combining different food consumption strategies.


The study reveals a gap between the actual and recommended consumption of a healthy diet in Canada for 2004. Canada’s Food Guide for a healthy diet includes four categories of food items: vegetables and fruits, grain products, milk and alternatives, and meat and alternatives. Results show that the Canadian diet has more meat and less vegetables, fruits, milk, and whole grains than recommended. Findings on the implications of a number of strategies combining different food consumptions reveal diverse results. An increase in GDP and employment can be expected if the Canadian diet is composed of more vegetables and fruits, while a reduction in employment and GDP may occur from more meat consumption. The combined strategy with four categories of food items would generate more jobs and GDP in Canada.


The article suggests that a suitable portfolio of fiscal policies is needed to provide households with incentives to change their food consumption patterns towards a healthy diet.


Canada Healthy diet Fruits and vegetables Meat Household consumption 



The authors would like to acknowledge the contribution of the Public Health Agency of Canada. The views expressed herein, however, do not necessarily represent the views of the Public Health Agency of Canada. The authors are grateful to Prof. Laurette Dube, McGill World Platform for Health and Economic Convergence, McGill University and Sylvie Desjardins (PHAC) for their valuable suggestion. The authors are indebted to Prof. Debesh Chakraborty for his continuous help and suggestions throughout the work. Finally, the authors wish to thank anonymous referees for their helpful comments and suggestions. Responsibility for errors, if any, remains with the authors.

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no competing interests.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Agricultural EconomicsMcGill UniversitySt Anne-de-BellevueCanada

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