The 2014 Health Canada Surveillance Tool (HCST) was developed to assess adherence of dietary intakes with Canada’s Food Guide. HCST classifies foods into one of four Tiers based on thresholds for sodium, total fat, saturated fat and sugar, with Tier 1 representing the healthiest and Tier 4 foods being the unhealthiest. This study presents the first application of HCST to assess (a) dietary patterns of Canadians; and (b) applicability of this tool as a measure of diet quality among 19,912 adult participants of Canadian Community Health Survey 2.2. Findings indicated that even though most of processed meats and potatoes were Tier 4, the majority of reported foods in general were categorized as Tiers 2 and 3 due to the adjustable lenient criteria used in HCST. Moving from the 1st to the 4th quartile of Tier 4 and “other” foods/beverages, there was a significant trend towards increased calories (1876 kcal vs.
2290 kcal) and “harmful” nutrients (e.g., sodium) as well as decreased “beneficial” nutrients. Compliance with the HCST was not associated with lower body mass index. Future nutrient profiling systems need to incorporate both “positive” and “negative” nutrients, an overall score and a wider range of nutrient thresholds to better capture food product differences.
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