For the Record – Healthy Living with Jennifer Messina

Marwa Elgabry – October 6, 2019

Jennifer Messina, Registered Dietitian from Canopy Integrated Health at North Vancouver.

(Jennifer Messina / Registered Dietitian)

The Dietitians of Canada Association has released a statement outlining three areas of concern for the government to take action on this federal election. The association highlights issues regarding food insecurity, nutrition labeling and food and beverage marketing, as well as access to dietary services. Jennifer Messina, Registered Dietitian from Canopy Integrated Health in North Vancouver, explains why more needs to be done in order to empower Canadians in living healthier lifestyles.

When exploring the issue of food insecurity, Messina emphasized the prevalence of this issue. She reflected on her work at St. Paul’s Hospital in Vancouver, and stated that she saw many people who struggled to afford the basic necessities to eat healthy. Messina stated that the underlying root cause to food insecurity among Canadians is not having the money to afford healthy foods. To combat this issue on a national scale, points to the federal government to take action.

“For people that are living on social assistance, addressing the income gap between the provinces and bringing everyone up to living wage, I think would be the best way to address this. And that would be something the federal government could address.” – Jennifer Messina, Registered Dietician

Jennifer Messina and her children gathered, holding fresh vegetables.

(Jennifer Messina / Registered Dietician)

Jennifer Messina, Registered Dietitian from North Vancouver Canopy Integrated Health, pictured with her children.

(Jennifer Messina / Registered Dietician)

The second area of concern detailed in the release urges the government to restrict food and beverage marketing to kids. Messina emphasized the importance of combating this type of advertising from a mother’s standpoint, and as an expert in the field.

“Being a parent myself, it is quite alarming the amount of advertising that’s actually directly marketed to kids. The majority of the foods that are being marketed are actually the ultra high processed foods that are very high in salt, fat, sugar, and calories. Kids don’t understand the intent of marketing messages and tend to believe that what they see is actually true.” – Jennifer Messina, Registered Dietitian

Tying it all together, Messina reminded listeners that diet has a significant impact on mental health and well-being, as stated in the association’s final point in the release. The association called on the government to take steps to increase dietary services to improve Canadians’ mental health. Messina explained that diet has been proven to reduce the risk of mental health issues, and decrease the severity of symptoms. While she emphasized the benefits of healthy eating on mental well-being, she also stated that some people in the community cannot afford to see a registered dietitian, or are unaware of or unable to access publicly funded dietary resources, such as HealthLink BC. To conquer this lack of access at home, Messina suggests promoting the dietary services available to community members.

“Dieticians of Canada and College of Dieticians of BC are trying to promote some of these things, as is HealthLink BC. But I think the highest risk are the clients we aren’t able to reach. I think addressing access to dieticians in the community would definitely be an issue that would help more Canadians meet their food requirements.” – Jennifer Messina, Registered Dietitian

Jennifer Messina’s daughter holding a handful of fresh grape tomatoes.

(Jennifer Messina / Registered Dietician)

To listen to the full interview, click on the link below.