Retail food environments in Canada: Maximizing the impact of research, policy and practice

Leia M. Minaker


Retail food environments are gaining national and international attention as important determinants of population dietary intake. Communities across Canada are beginning to discuss and implement programs and policies to create supportive retail food environments. Three considerations should drive the selection of food environment assessment methods: relevance (What is the problem, and how is it related to dietary outcomes?); resources (What human, time and financial resources are required to undertake an assessment?); and response (How will policy-makers find meaning out of and act on the information gained through the food environment assessment?). Ultimately, food environment assessments should be conducted in the context of stakeholder buy-in and multi-sectoral partnerships, since food environment solutions require multi-sectoral action. Partnerships between public health actors and the food and beverage industry can be challenging, especially when mandates are not aligned. Clarifying the motivations, expectations and roles of all stakeholders takes time but is important if the impact of food environment research, policy and practice is to be maximized. The articles contained in this special supplementary issue describe ongoing food environments research across Canada and fill some of the important gaps in the current body of Canadian food environments literature.


Food; environment; public health; diet

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