Join Insights West's Feedback Community to participate in meaningful research like this!Join


Organic food consumption is more prevalent in British Columbia, while Albertans are more likely to consume a product past its expiry or “Best Before” date.

Vancouver, BC – There is a sizeable gender gap in Canada when it comes to losing weight, as well as different perspectives across the country on issues such as organic foods and expiry dates, a new Canada-wide Insights West poll has found.

In the online survey of a representative national sample, 42% of Canadians say they went on a diet with the specific intent of losing weight over the past year. Women are more likely to report having dieted for weight loss (48%) than men (37%).

Atlantic Canadians (47%) were more likely to try to lose weight through dieting, while Manitobans were the least likely to try (32%). Almost half of Canadians aged 18-to-34 (47%) and aged 35-to-54 (46%) went on a diet over the past twelve months, compared to only 35% of those aged 55 and over.

A majority of Canadians (56%) say they consumed a product past its expiry date. Albertans were more likely to disregard the “Best Before” labels (63%) than Quebecers (46%). While half of Canadians (52%) bought and consumed organic fruits and vegetables, the proportion is decidedly higher in British Columbia (70%).

Nutritional shakes are popular with one-in-five Canadians (22%) and almost one-in-ten (9%) report undergoing a juice cleanse in the past year.

Three-in-five Canadians (60%) took vitamin supplements over the past year, a proportion that rises to 71% in Alberta and 65% among those aged 55 and over.

Most Canadians check the labels on their food “frequently” or “occasionally” to look for nutritional content (81%), sugar (80%), sodium (77%), fat (75%), total calories (73%) and country of origin (65%).

However, fewer than half (46%) look at labels to figure out if a product is organic or not or to see whether it includes genetically modified organisms (GMOs) (44%).

Avoiding Certain Foods

Half of Canadians (50%) avoided a food product because of something they saw, read or heard. While only 41% of those aged 55 and over say they stopped eating something, the proportion is higher among those aged 18-to-34 (56%) and 35-to-54 (54%).

Canadians were asked to review 13 statements about foods they may consume, and say whether they believed each one. More than half of Canadians found the following claims credible:

– “Aspartame (a sweetener found in diet sodas) is unhealthy for you.” (81%)
– “The use of antibiotics in food-producing animals can lead to antibiotic resistance in humans.” (78%)
– “Monosodium glutamate (MSG) causes headaches and discomfort.” (72%)
– “Whole refined sugar is really bad for you.” (68%)
– “Steroids are present in chicken and beef raised in Canada.” (64%)
– “Genetically modified foods are unhealthy for you.” (53%)
– “Hormones in cow’s milk cause children to mature more quickly.” (52%)

“While 53% of Canadians believe that genetically modified foods are bad for them, only 44% have checked labels consistently to figure out if they are consuming them,” says Steve Mossop, President of Insights West. “Also, four-in-five also appear concerned about aspartame, which has been permitted in Canada since 1981.”

There is little consensus on the other statements tested, including:

– “Organic foods are way healthier for you than non-organic foods.” (49%)
– “Cooking food in a microwave destroys its nutritional content.” (41%, but 52% in Alberta).
– “Farmed salmon is unhealthy for you.” (36%, but 46% in British Columbia).
– “Having fluoride in the water is detrimental to your health.” (31%)
– “Soy products cause breast cancer.” (24%)
– “Eating peanuts while pregnant can lead to babies developing peanut allergies.” (12%)

Protein Sources

Practically nine-in-ten Canadians consume protein from four different sources: chicken (94% say they eat it “frequently” or “occasionally”), eggs (also 94%), dairy (90%) and beef (89%).

Fish is ranked slightly lower (83%), along with legumes (83%) and pork (77%), followed by plant-based proteins (76%), seafood (75%), and turkey (70%). The lowest ranked sources of protein for Canadians are soy (35%) and bison (11%).

Seafood is a more common protein source for British Columbians (81%), Atlantic Canadians (78%) and Quebecers (77%). Soy is more popular in Quebec and British Columbia (45% and 44% respectively) than in Saskatchewan and Manitoba (21% and 20% respectively).

The Super Foods

Canadians were also asked about specific foods that have become more popular over the past few years. Quinoa (80%), ginger (78%), goji berries (73%), chia (72%), turmeric (72%) and walnuts (72%) were regarded as “very healthy” food options by more than seven-in-ten Canadians.

When it comes to having tried these foods, more than four-in-five Canadians have consumed walnuts (85%), ginger (84%), and coconut (82%), but fewer have eaten quinoa (66%), turmeric (53%) or chia (43%).

About Insights West:

Insights West is a progressive, Western-based, full-service marketing research company. It exists to serve the market with insights-driven research solutions and interpretive analysis through leading-edge tools, normative databases, and senior-level expertise across a broad range of public and private sector organizations. Insights West is based in Vancouver and Calgary.

About this Release:

Results are based on an online study conducted from May 26 to June 2, 2017, among a representative sample of 1,257 Canadian adults. The data has been statistically weighted according to Canadian census figures for age, gender and region. The margin of error—which measures sample variability—is +/- 2.8 percentage points. View the detailed data tabulations.

For further information, please contact:

Steve Mossop
President, Insights West