Healthy eating is fundamental to human health and an important factor in reducing the risk of many chronic diseases. Still, many Canadians struggle to make healthy choices and suffer from chronic conditions such as obesity, heart disease, cancer and diabetes.
The Centre for Health and Nutrition envisions optimal health through food and nutrition. It is the Centre’s mission is to integrate research, practice and health promotion in nutrition.
Part of this mission includes working with researchers, practitioners, students, government, organizations and communities. The Centre creates and uses evidence to influence food systems, nutrition policy and practice. It also supports the development and offering of research-based continuing professional education and works to connect researchers to user communities through outreach and advocacy.
One area of focus is food environments. Kim Raine, professor and scientific director of the Centre, and her colleagues have been evaluating the physical, social, communication, economic and political food environments for children and youth and compiling the results in an annual Alberta Nutrition Report Card. In 2016, they received funding from Alberta Innovates-Health Solutions to continue this work into 2021, allowing them to track how Alberta’s food environments and nutrition policies support or create barriers to improving children’s eating behaviours and body weights over time.
In addition to evaluating food environments, the Centre has assembled a cadre of staff members with expertise in nutrition and health, teaching, scientific writing, communications and knowledge translation to provide support to other research projects, education programs and community outreach activities.
For example, the Centre developed a course entitled “Nutrition for Optimal Health” for the Edmonton Lifelong Learner’s Association, a group that provides learning opportunities for adults 50+. Experts in areas including cancer, heart disease and diabetes have been assembled to educate this audience on the relationship between nutrition and chronic disease and to dispel common myths regarding food and nutrition.
The Centre for Health and Nutrition is housed in the Faculty of Agricultural, Life and Environmental Sciences in partnership with the School of Public Health. It is currently funded by the Faculty of Agricultural, Life and Environmental Sciences.