Region sees healthy eating deficit

Photo by Zoe Nguyen
Photo by Zoe Nguyen

Region of Waterloo Public Health released a report this past year indicating that there is a deficit in healthy eating and physical activity amongst the majority of the region’s population.

The report surveyed adults 18 years and older in the region between 2009 and 2010, demonstrating that 40.9 per cent reported eating fruits and vegetables five or more times a day, 72.6 per cent believe they have an excellent state of mental health, 49.8 per cent report to being moderately physically active and 51.6 per cent were classified as overweight or obese. In addition to this, 30.5 per cent have been diagnosed with chronic health conditions, such as high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease and cancer.

Alison Danby, naturopathic doctor at the Natural Way Health Clinic, said that from her observations, there are a number of individuals who are not conforming to healthy living standards in the region, however these people mainly consist of individuals who lead busy lifestyles.

While there is a common belief that many students do not conform to healthy living standards, Danby said she has seen a shift in healthy living habits amongst students over the past couple of years.

“What I have noticed is that they are actually making more health-conscious decisions,” said Danby. “The students coming in now into university actually have better habits than when I was in university because the knowledge is there.”

Danby believes that people are becoming more aware of healthy living habits due to social media. People are beginning to advertise informative facts, as well as positive reinforcement about healthy living on their social media pages, which encourages others to follow a healthy lifestyle.

While Danby has noticed an increasing trend in healthy living amongst students, Avigael Samson, a fourth-year general arts student at Wilfrid Laurier University suggested otherwise.

“Personally for me, I think it’s hard to have a healthy diet when you are a student living on a budget and always on the run,” she said.

Samson explained that she normally freezes home-cooked meals from her parents, which is where she gets her nutrients. When she is cooking for herself, however, she typically goes the easy route by disregarding specific ingredients and eating out at restaurants.

“If I’m going to be spending, I want something that is worth my money in value and taste,” said Samson.

“Eating out itself is unhealthy, so I don’t care much about how bad my choice of a meal is.”

Danby stressed the importance that healthy eating has on the mind and body. It is proven to affect brain chemistry, which is important in dealing with high stress levels, especially amongst students.

“Healthy eating not just affects your overall appearance, your glow, your skin and what-not, it affects how your body is functioning a well,” explained Danby.

According to Danby, recent research has indicated that what you eat could actually impact your genetic makeup as well.

In order to adopt healthy lifestyles, one should ensure that they are consuming four to five servings of vegetables a day. This should include at least one green vegetable. Danby also encouraged people to drink lots of water and reduce sugar and sugary grains.

“What you put in your body is what you get out in function … on every singular cellular level, it will make an impact,” she said.

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