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Edmonton Families Not Getting Enough Healthy Food, Food Insecurity A Problem: Vital Signs Report

A new report shows that 12 per cent of Albertans can't afford healthy food and those who can aren't eating enough of it.

Vital Signs Edmonton – a report on food security” takes a look at food security in the city and province, and reports on how people can better access nutritious food.

Released Tuesday by the Edmonton Community Foundation (ECF) and the Edmonton Social Planning Council (ESPC), the report finds 12.3 per cent of Albertans experienced food insecurity in 2011, while 2.5 per cent of those experienced severe food insecurity.

According to the study, the average family of four in Edmonton spends $210 per week on healthy and nutritious food, but John Kolkman, a research coordinator with the Edmonton Planning Council, said it's families with limited income who are suffering.

“People have to pay their rent, have to pay their utilities or they’re going to end up homeless and it’s food where they often shortchange themselves simply because they can’t afford to purchase healthy nutritious food," he told Global Edmonton.

And despite Edmonton families earning a higher household income than the rest of Canada ($57,200 median income compared with $50,700 nationally,) the study reports one-in-five Edmontonians earn less than $15 per hour.

The study also found two-thirds of Edmonton families don't eat enough fruits and vegetables. Only 36 per cent of Edmontonians report eating the recommended five servings of fruit and vegetables per day -- compared with 40 per cent of Canadians.

A lack of healthy eating may explain why diabetes and teen obesity are on the rise, Dr. Christopher Sikora, Edmonton’s chief medical officer, told the Edmonton Journal.

In 2012, almost 30 per cent of Edmonton teens between the ages of 12 and 17 were considered overweight or obese, compared to the national average of 21.8 per cent.

As well, 5.6 per cent of Edmontonians report having diabetes, compared with the provincial rate of 5.27 per cent, said the study.

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