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Exploring Food and Eating Trends among Ontario Families with Children – What do we know? (sku: 40021)

January 12, 2021


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This new report provides a snapshot of the food and eating trends in Ontario families and how they compare with other families in Canada.  

The report includes information about 

  • What families are eating and drinking for meals and snacks 
  • Where and how families are eating and sharing meals 
  • How families are shopping and preparing meals
  • What is driving family food choices 



Nutrition Connections, with support from The Helderleigh Foundation, worked with Ipsos, a global market and research and public opinion firm, to explore these trends.  This study is unique as it examines families with children in different age groups including: 2 to 5, 6 to 12, and 13 to 17 year olds. This study is the first to examine the food choices and eating habits of families in such detail.  This data is lacking provincially and nationally. 

This study was based on the Ipsos Five Study, an online Canadian food diary, which has an annual base sample of 20,000 Canadians aged two years and older.  Data was collected on eating attitudes and behaviours of children, youth and families for the year ending in 2019.  Starting in March 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic impacted family eating and consumption patterns as well as shopping, meal preparation and other situational dynamics at home. We provide a few insights as to what has changed in families with respect to eating together and meal preparation.  While it is too early to tell the long-term impacts of the pandemic, it is important to consider that there may be long lasting impacts on the food and eating attitudes and behaviours of children, youth and parents that will need to be monitored going forward. With this baseline data it will be possible to compare the situation in a post-COVID-19 time frame in the future.  

Who is this report targeted to?  

This information will be helpful to anyone planning programs or interventions targeting families with children and youth. That includes policy makers, food marketers, food developers, health professionals, health promoters, program planners, community health practitioners, educators, child care providers, researchers, and organizations providing food and nutrition education to children, families or caregivers.  

Here are a few highlights of some of the data you will find in the report:  

IOntario, 43% of families consumed meals and snacks at the kitchen or dining room table, but a sizable amount of eating and snacking happens in the family room or in front of the television or other screens. 

Most families in Ontario (77%) reported spending under 30 minutes on meal preparation activities. 

The top ranked information on a food label by parents in Ontario was “made in Canada”, followed by “all natural” and certifications like organic/free-range. 


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