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Healthy Eating

The Population & Public Health Program works with partners across the province to promote healthy eating.
Our activities

The Population and Public Health Program works with partners at PHSA and a variety of stakeholders across the province to promote healthy eating by:

  • Supporting the creation of food environments that provide opportunities to make healthy food choices where British Columbians live, learn, work and play
  • Providing timely, credible and relevant information and resources on healthy eating
  • Facilitating dialogue and partnering with other sectors to identify problems, implement solutions and evaluate impact of healthy eating initiatives and programs
  • Influencing and participating in policy development 

Our current focus areas include:

  • Managing healthy eating programs
  • Coordinating provincial healthy eating resources
  • Promoting healthy weights

Provincial Healthy Eating Program Management

We provide oversight and ongoing support to the following provincially funded healthy eating programs:

The BC School Fruit & Vegetable Nutritional Program is a school-based healthy eating program administered through the BC Agriculture in the Classroom Foundation. The Foundation works with local growers and distributors to bring fresh fruit and vegetable snacks 12 times in the school year, to over 90% of BC public and First Nations K-12 schools.  Snacks are served during class time, creating the opportunity to engage students in discussion about fruits and vegetables and healthy eating habits. Over 571,000 servings were provided in the 2017/18 school year. The program is designed to increase students' acceptability of, exposure to, and willingness to try fruits and vegetables and awareness of local produce.


Working with communities and partners, Farm to School BC seeks to empower and support schools in building comprehensive Farm to School programs that bring healthy, local and sustainable food into schools. These programs provide students with hands-on learning opportunities that foster food literacy, all while strengthening the local food system and enhancing school and community connectedness. Farm to School BC is administered by the Public Health Association of BC. 


The Farmers' Market Nutrition Coupon Program (FMNCP) is a healthy eating initiative that supports local farmers and farmers' markets and strengthens food security across British Columbia. It is delivered through the BC Association of Farmers' Markets (BCAFM). Through this program, BCAFM partners with community organizations to distribute farmers' market coupons to lower income families and seniors participating in their programs. These coupons can be spent at all BC farmers' markets that participate in the FMNCP to purchase vegetables, fruits, nuts, eggs, dairy, cut herbs, meat and fish. 


Food Skills for Families is a hands-on curriculum based program that inspires and empowers participants to eat well while creating fast easy meals using fresh, whole ingredients. It is offered as a six-session program and is currently delivered to the following priority populations: low income, newcomers, Punjabi, Indigenous and active seniors. Participants gain knowledge of basic nutrition, learn how to shop and make healthy meals, snacks and beverage choices and gain confidence in the kitchen.

The Informed Dining in Health Care program requires retail food service establishments located in health care facilities to provide customers nutrition information with a focus on calories and sodium. The program was developed in consultation with BC's health authorities and has been fully implemented since 2016. 


Provincial Healthy Eating Resource Development

In collaboration with the BC Ministry of Health, HealthLink BC, First Nations Health Authority and the regional health authorities, we manage the development of provincial healthy eating resources for the general public and health professionals which include but are not limited to the following:

The Pediatric Nutrition Guidelines provide health professionals with evidence-based nutrition and feeding guidelines for healthy, full-term infants and children up to six-years of age. In addition to food and fluid guidelines, other important nutrition topics are covered such as developmental feeding milestones, nutrition risk indicators, parental influences on eating habits, and food allergies. This resource is intended to be a reference tool for a broad range of health care practitioners, providing easily-accessible, evidence-based, nutrition messaging to support improved child health outcomes.

In 2018, a course was developed on the Learning Hub on how to use the Guidelines to support the consistent training of health professionals across the province. 

The Healthy Eating for Seniors Handbook is a Ministry of Health resource widely used throughout the province to help seniors make decisions about healthy eating. The Handbook features practical nutrition and healthy eating information including recipes, meal planning and tips for eating to prevent or manage chronic diseases. In 2018, the handbook was updated to reflect the latest evidence and messaging around healthy eating for seniors. 

Nutri-eSTEP and Nutri-eSCREEN® are accessible web-based electronic self-assessment tools that are designed to provide healthy eating recommendations and feedback to parents of toddlers and pre-schoolers and seniors, respectively. These tools identify things that are going well with regards to healthy eating and nutrition, as well as areas for action based on the user's responses to a series of survey questions.  


This background paper discusses the current scientific evidence for vitamin D’s role in health for perinatal women and healthy term infants (birth – 12 months), as well as provides information on sources of vitamin D for British Columbians. This paper supports health professionals in providing informed recommendations to their clients to ensure adequate vitamin D intakes for perinatal women and healthy term infants. A practice support tool was created for health professionals to complement the background paper.


Reducing weight bias and stigma

Weight bias refers to negative attitudes, beliefs, assumptions and judgments toward individuals who are overweight and obese. Commonly held beliefs about obesity, such as it being solely the result of individual choices rather than being influenced by the broad socio-environmental context, can contribute to weight bias, stigma, bullying and discrimination. 

Strong evidence shows that weight bias causes harm to mental health and well-being, and can lead to poor body image, low self-esteem, depression, anxiety and other psychological disorders, and suicidal thoughts and actions. Weight bias can also cause physical harm from the resulting unhealthy weight control practices, which in turn can contribute to obesity, disordered eating and eating disorders.

We work with partners at PHSA and across the province to support new approaches and thinking that address the complex problems associated with obesity in ways that protect and promote mental well-being as well as physical health, while reducing weight bias. 

In addition, we believe that efforts to promote well-being should ensure that they do not inadvertently increase inequities in health or health behaviours. Shifting from weight-focused to well- being-focused approaches in practice and  policy has potential to improve population health.

Reports & resources

BC School Fruit and Vegetable Nutritional Program Evaluation – 2017/2018

Summary report highlighting key findings related to program awareness among students, teachers/coordinators and families, awareness of and perceptions on local foods, program impact on students and their families, and program use by teachers to support the delivery of the BC Curriculum. Released November 2018.

Informed Dining in Health Care Evaluation

In 2017, an evaluation of Informed Dining in Health Care was conducted to assess the impact of the program on health care food retail customers. The evaluation was led by the Population and Public Health Program at BC Centre for Disease Control (BCCDC), in consultation with the BC Ministry of Health and food services representatives from the regional health authorities. Released April 2018 

Injury consequences of promoting physical activity

Summary of recent research evidence on the injury consequences of promoting physical activity. Produced by the BC Injury Research and Prevention Unit (BCIRPU), the available resources include a final report, executive summary, and fact sheets. Released: April 2013

Overweight/obesity & the link to bullying: A review

Literature review to identify recent evidence on the association between obesity and bullying. The BC Injury Research and Prevention Unit (BCIRPU) conducted the review to understand whether people who are overweight or obese are more likely to experience injury as a result of bullying than people of healthy weight. Released: April 2013

Weight to well-being: Time for a shift in paradigms?

A discussion paper that explores the interrelationships among obesity, overweight, weight bias and mental well-being. The review summarizes new and emerging research that may challenge traditional approaches to weight reduction. Released: February 2013

Recommendations for an obesity reduction strategy

This report was developed by the BC Obesity Reduction Strategy Task Force following broad consultation with a variety of stakeholders. By considering the best available evidence and expert opinion, cost effectiveness, and the range of options for the BC context, the report offers recommendations to address overweight and obesity in B.C. Released: August 2010

Working group reports

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