Canadian Journal of Public Health

, Volume 107, Supplement 1, pp eS1–eS3 | Cite as

Retail food environments in Canada: Maximizing the impact of research, policy and practice

  • Leia M. MinakerEmail author
Opening Commentary


Retail food environments are gaining national and international attention as important determinants of population dietary intake. Communities across Canada are beginning to discuss and implement programs and policies to create supportive retail food environments. Three considerations should drive the selection of food environment assessment methods: relevance (What is the problem, and how is it related to dietary outcomes?); resources (What human, time and financial resources are required to undertake an assessment?); and response (How will policy-makers find meaning out of and act on the information gained through the food environment assessment?). Ultimately, food environment assessments should be conducted in the context of stakeholder buy-in and multi-sectoral partnerships, since food environment solutions require multi-sectoral action. Partnerships between public health actors and the food and beverage industry can be challenging, especially when mandates are not aligned. Clarifying the motivations, expectations and roles of all stakeholders takes time but is important if the impact of food environment research, policy and practice is to be maximized. The articles contained in this special supplementary issue describe ongoing food environments research across Canada and fill some of the important gaps in the current body of Canadian food environments literature.

Key words

Food environment public health diet 


Les environnements alimentaires au détail attirent l’attention à l’échelle nationale et internationale en tant qu’importants déterminants des apports alimentaires des populations. Les communautés de tout le Canada commencent à discuter et à appliquer des programmes et des politiques de création d’environnements alimentaires au détail favorables. La sélection des méthodes d’évaluation des environnements alimentaires devrait reposer sur trois éléments: la pertinence (Quel est le problème et en quoi est-il lié aux résultats nutritionnels?); les ressources (De quelles ressources en main-d’œuvre, en temps et en argent a-t-on besoin pour mener une évaluation?); et la réponse à donner (Comment les responsables des politiques trouveront-ils un sens à l’information obtenue par l’évaluation des environnements alimentaires et comment en prendront-ils acte?). En bout de ligne, les évaluations des environnements alimentaires devraient être menées dans le contexte d’un ralliement des acteurs et de partenariats multisectoriels, puisque les solutions aux problèmes des environnements alimentaires exigent une action multisectorielle. Les partenariats entre les acteurs de la santé publique et l’industrie des aliments et boissons peuvent être difficiles, surtout quand les mandats ne correspondent pas. Il faut du temps pour clarifier les motivations, les attentes et les rôles de chacun, mais il est important de le faire si l’on veut maximiser l’impact de la recherche, des politiques et des pratiques liées aux environnements alimentaires. Les articles du présent supplément décrivent les travaux de recherche en cours sur les environnements alimentaires au Canada et comblent des lacunes importantes dans la littérature canadienne actuelle sur le sujet.

Mots Clés

nourriture environnement santé publique régime alimentaire 


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Copyright information

© The Canadian Public Health Association 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Propel Centre for Population Health ImpactUniversity of WaterlooWaterlooCanada

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