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Research Article

Self-Perceived Eating Habits and Food Skills

of Canadians
Joyce J. Slater, PhD; Adriana N. Mudryj, MSc

Objective: This study identified and described Canadians’ self-perceived eating habits and food skills
through the use of population-based data.
Design: Data from the Canadian Community Health Survey 2013 Rapid Response on Food Skills was
used to examine the eating quality and patterns of Canadians. Data were collected from all provinces in
January and February 2013.
Main Outcome Measures: Respondent variables (sex, age, Aboriginal/immigrant status) were exam-
ined to assess differentiations between socio-demographic groupings (family structure, marital status, ed-
ucation, and income).
Analysis: Logistic regression was used to determine whether demographic variables increased the likeli-
hood of certain responses.
Results: Forty-six percent of Canadians believe they have excellent/very good eating habits, with 51% cat-
egorizing their habits as good or fair. Similarly, the majority report having good food skills. Sex and age were
significantly associated with food skills, with women rating their cooking skill proficiency higher than men
(72% vs 55%), and older Canadians reporting higher food skill knowledge than their younger counterparts.
Conclusions and Implications: Results indicate that while portions of the Canadian population have
adequate food skills, others are lacking, which may negatively impact their diet. Findings from this study
have implications for education and health promotion programs focusing on foods skills, particularly
among vulnerable target groups.
Key Words: health surveys, food skills, eating habits, Canadian Community Health Survey (J Nutr Educ
Behav. 2016;48:486-495.)
Accepted April 24, 2016.

INTRODUCTION low nutritional profiles.11 The chronic disease. While still an emerging
increased intake of ultra-processed concept, some studies have shown
The rapidly growing rates of obesity foods is linked with rising obesity that having better food skills is associ-
and related chronic disease in global rates.12,13 The high use of ultra- ated with better diet quality16,17 and
populations1,2 have prompted many processed foods has also been impli- may help some food-insecure individ-
public health and education experts cated in reduced domestic food prepa- uals.18 Having sufficient food skills
to examine dietary and food behavior ration time, creating a cycle of may allow individuals to have more
patterns3,4 and the role of food skills dependence on convenience food control over their diet by preferentially
in protecting nutritional health.5-9 Eating products and a decline in basic food selecting and preparing basic foods
patterns in industrialized countries, skills.14,15 with favorable nutrition profiles.19
and increasingly around the globe, Possessing adequate food skills, or More research, however, is needed to
have been shifting in recent decades having the capabilities to plan, select, empirically demonstrate the linkages
to include disproportionate amounts prepare, and consume food, has been between food skills and diet quality.
of highly processed convenience proposed as a protective quality The steady and steep increase in the
foods,4,10 the majority of which have against obesity and nutrition-related consumption of highly processed
foods in recent decades, coinciding
with increased rates of obesity and
Human Nutritional Sciences, University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada chronic disease, suggests that this is
Conflict of Interest Disclosure: The authors’ conflict of interest disclosures can be found online an important area that warrants exam-
with this article on ination.10,11,20
Address for correspondence: Joyce J. Slater, PhD, 409 Human Ecology Building, Depart- The purpose of this study was to
ment of Human Nutritional Sciences, University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, Manitoba, identify and describe Canadians' self-
R3T 2N2, Canada; Phone: (204) 474-7322; Fax: (204) 474-7593; E-mail: joyce.slater@ perceived eating habits and food skills through the use of population-based
Ó2016 Society for Nutrition Education and Behavior. Published by Elsevier, Inc. All rights data from the Canadian Community
reserved. Health Survey Rapid Response on Food Skills (CCHS).

486 Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior  Volume 48, Number 7, 2016
Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior  Volume 48, Number 7, 2016 Slater and Mudryj 487

METHODS eating habits, meal preparation prac- Statistical Analysis

Setting and Participants tices, ingredients used in cooking, and
kitchen skills as well as grocery shop- Cross-tabulations and chi-square test-
The CCHS is a federal cross-sectional ping routines and meal adjustments. ing were performed to compare propor-
survey aimed at providing health infor- Self-reported eating habits were ranked tions among demographic groups.
mation at the national and provincial as ‘‘excellent or very good,’’ ‘‘good or Logistic regression was used to deter-
levels. Beginning in 2007, major changes fair,’’ or ‘‘poor.’’ Similarly, self-assess- mine whether any of the aforemen-
were made to the survey design and as ment of the respondent's mechanical tioned demographic variables increased
a result, data collection now occurs skills (ie, cutting, peeling, baking from the likelihood of certain practices
every year (although a ‘‘cycle’’ is now a recipe or from scratch) were ranked such as recipe adjustment and grocery
considered to be a 2-year period).21 by the respondent on a scale ranging planning. Odds ratios were calculated
The rapid response component is from ‘‘very limited’’ to ‘‘very good.’’ Re- and the significance level was set at
offered to organizations interested in spondents were also asked to classify P < .05 for differences and .05 < P < .10
national estimates on an emerging or their cooking skills and meal prepara- for trends. Reference groups were cho-
specific issue related to the popula- tion habits on the basis of categories sen on the basis of hypotheses that
tion's health.22 This research is based chosen by Statistics Canada. This took certain characteristics (such as higher
on results from Parts 1 and 2 of the into account the types of foods most income or education) may be linked
CCHS 2013 Rapid Response on Food often used in the meal of the day that with enhanced food skills. All analyses
Skills, which collected data from a na- required the most preparation (ie, were performed with the use of PASW
tionally representative sample of whole/basic foods, easy-to-prepare SPSS Statistics (version 13, IBM Corp,
Canadians $ 12 years of age in all 10 items, or take out/delivery) as well as Armonk, New York) and STATA Statis-
provinces. Data collection took place their ability to cook from basic ingredi- tical Software (version 22, StataCorp
across the country in January and ents, and the proportions of respon- LP, College Station, Texas). Because
February of 2013. Interviewers from dents falling into these categories were the CCHS uses a multi-stage, stratified,
Statistics Canada, a government agency calculated. The food skills component complex survey design and requires a
that produces statistics to better under- asked respondents about grocery shop- complex formula to calculate variance
stand the population, administered ping habits, inquired about grocery estimates, Statistics Canada recom-
questions related to meal preparation, budgeting and use of grocery lists, and mends using bootstrapping to estimate
the amount of basic versus processed whether or not respondents made distribution from a sample's statistics.
ingredients used, cooking and kitchen choices by using Canada's Food Guide Bootstrapping is an approach used to
skills levels, time spent on food prepa- to Healthy Eating (CFGHE) when estimate distribution from a sample's
ration, frequency of family meals, and choosing and purchasing ingredients. statistics. It can also be defined as ‘‘sam-
children's participation in household Additionally, respondents were also pling within a sample’’ and involves
food activities. The addition of these asked if they had ever adjusted a recipe the selection of random samples
questions to the Canadian Commu- to make it healthier, and, if so, were known as replicates and the calculation
nity Health Survey Annual Compo- asked how this was done (ie, reducing of the variation in the estimates from
nent was sponsored by the Office of salt, sugar, or fat content, etc).22 replicate to replicate.21 The bootstrap-
Nutrition Policy and Promotion, Health Demographic variables such as sex, ping method was used in all the data
Canada. In total, 10,098 respondents age, and education status were used to analyses for the present study via
completed Part 1 (which assessed know- assess the variability of these practices STATA software. As well, the sampling
ledge, planning, and transference of across Canada, and key variables were error of the estimates from the CCHS
skills) and 10,701 completed Part 2 examined to assess differentiations (quantified by the coefficient of
(which focused on mechanical skills between various socio-demographic variation, or CV) must be taken into
and food conceptualization). The over- groups. Descriptive statistics were consideration when using CCHS data.
all response rate was 67.3%.22 Further used to describe differences between When the CV is between 16.6 and
details as well as the questionnaire sexes, in addition to Aboriginal status 33.3, the estimate should be inter-
can be viewed on the Statistics Canada (being of First Nations, Metis, or Inuit preted with caution because of high
website.21 Research for this study was as well as those with Registered or variability.
conducted at the Manitoba Research Treaty Indian status), immigrant sta-
Data Centre and is consistent with tus, and comparisons between family
Research Ethics Board Requirements. structure, and other characteristics RESULTS
Data were accessed in a secure environ- were observed by looking at marital
ment and all output was first reviewed status and respondent and house- The majority of respondents reported
by Statistics Canada to ensure disclo- hold education. Income was also having good eating habits, with almost
sure avoidance before release. examined as a factor, splitting res- half reporting ‘‘excellent’’ or ‘‘very
pondents into 4 groups on the basis good’’ and more than half reporting
of their household income. Individ- ‘‘good’’ or ‘‘fair.’’ Older respondents
Measures uals with invalid responses, such as (65 years and over) were more likely
‘‘refusal to answer,’’ ‘‘don't know,’’ or (P < .05) to report ‘‘excellent’’ or
This study focused on the self-rated be- ‘‘not applicable,’’ were excluded from ‘‘very good’’ eating habits than those
haviors of Canadians regarding their the study. 12–29 years of age. Female respondents
488 Slater and Mudryj
Table 1. Self-Reported Eating Habits, Meal Preparation, and Cooking Skills of Canadians

Eating Habits Meal Preparation Habits Cooking Skills

Mix of Easy-to-Prepare, I Can Prepare
Easy-to-Prepare Ready-to-Eat, Simple Meals, Boil I Can Prepare
Excellent/ Mostly Foods and Whole/ Takeout, or an Egg, or Cook Most Dishes, Especially
Demographic Very Good/Fair Poor (%) Whole/Basic Basic Delivery a Grilled Cheese If I Have a Recipe
Characteristics Good (%) n (%) n n Foods (%) n Foods (%) n Foods (%) n Sandwich (%) n to Follow (%) n
Overall 46 (4,765) 51 (5,165) 3 (295) 75 (7,690) 20 (2,000) 5 (535) 21 (2,040) 63 (6,815)
Malea 44 (2,065) 53 (2,455) 3 (140) 72 (3,390) 21 (945) 7 (325) 32 (1,415) 55 (2,680)
Female 48* (2,700) 48* (2,710) 4 (155) 78* (4,300) 19 (1,055) 3E* (210) 11** (625) 72** (4,135)

Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior  Volume 48, Number 7, 2016

12–29 ya 41 (955) 55 (1,255) 4 (80) 68 (1,590) 23 (555) 9E (145) 31 (695) 58 (1,380)
30–44 y 45* (800) 52 (1,035) 3 (65) 75* (1,350) 21 (455) 4E (95) 15** (250) 68* (1,350)
45–64 y 46* (1,540) 50 (1,710) 4 (130) 77* (2,615) 18* (600) 5E (165) 17** (505) 65* (2,305)
65þ y 56* (1,475) 42* (1,165) 2 (15) 81** (2,135) 15* (385) 3E (135) 25* (590) 64* (1,780)
Marital status
Marrieda 51 (2,240) 48 (2,045) 1 (25) – – – – –
Common law 44* (360) 54* (460) 2 (15) – – – – –
Widowed, separated, 44* (905) 51 (1,040) 5 (45) – – – – –
or divorced
Single 41* (1,245) 54* (1,620) 5 (145) – – – – –
Respondent education
< Post-secondarya 43 (1,905) 53 (2,300) 4 (170) 74 (2,870) 20 (710) 6E (160) 31 (1,030) 59 (2,415)
> Post-secondary 48* (2,790) 49 (2,790) 3 (165) 77 (n ¼ 4,250) 19 (n ¼ 1,095) 4E (130) 19* (935) 65* (3,840)
Household education
< Post-secondarya 40 (1,080) 55 (1,420) 5 (125) 70 (1,575) 20 (385) 10 (115) 25 (495) 62 (2,415)
> Post-secondary 48* (3,530) 49* (3,560) 3 (210) 77* (5,230) 20 (1,330) 3* (155) 23 (1,355) 63 (3,840)
Household income
< $30,000a 40 (900) 54 (1,235) 6 (130) 77 (1,615) 16 (380) 7 (100) 22 (495) 61 (1,430)
$30,000–59,999 43 (1,360) 54 (1,510) 3 (85) 75 (2,250) 21 (535) 4 (95) 26 (660) 61 (1,925)
$60,000–89,999 48* (975) 49* (1,000) 3 (60) 76 (1,525) 20 (390) 4 (55) 23 (405) 62 (1,305)
> $90,000 51 (1,530) 47* (1,420) 2 (60) 77 (2,030) 20 (555) 3* (55) 22 (495) 64 (1,810)
Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior  Volume 48, Number 7, 2016 Slater and Mudryj 489

were more likely than male respon- female respondents to have a budget

Note: Numbers reflect proportions of Canadians who categorize themselves as having responses in each outcome category. Cross-tabulations and chi-square testing were
dents (P < .05) to have ‘‘excellent or or use a grocery list when shopping,
very good’’ or ‘‘good/fair’’ eating habits. and half as likely to use CFGHE recom-
As well, married Canadians were more mendations or select foods on the basis
likely than single, common-law, or of labels (P < .001). Younger Canadians

– widowed/divorced/separated Cana- were significantly more likely than older
dians (P < .05) to have ‘‘excellent’’ or Canadians to have a budget but less
‘‘very good’’ eating habits. Aboriginal likely to use a grocery list (P < .001).
Canadians were significantly less likely Whereas almost two-thirds selected
to report having ‘‘excellent’’ or ‘‘very foods on the basis of nutrition labels,
good’’ eating habits compared with less than one-third used recommenda-
tis; EUse with caution (> 16.6% coefficient of variation < 33.3%).

non-Aboriginals (37% vs 46%), as tions from CFGHE. Canadians over

were those with less education and 45 years of age were more likely to use
less income. Immigrants were more Food Guide recommendations than

likely to report better eating habits were younger Canadians.

than other Canadians (P < .05). Only Respondents reported high rates of
3% of all respondents reported having competency with mechanical food
‘‘poor’’ eating habits. skills such as using a knife, peeling/
Almost two-thirds of all respondents chopping, and cooking raw meat/
could prepare most dishes, although poultry/fish and soup/stew/casseroles
those 12–29 years old were less able (Table 3). Women were significantly
(P < .05). Significantly more women more likely to report having good/

were able to prepare most dishes than very good food preparation skills than
were men (72% vs 55%). Just over men, particularly when it came to cook-
one-fifth reported having basic skills ing raw meat, making a soup/stew or
such as boiling an egg or making a casserole from scratch, and baking muf-
grilled cheese sandwich. However, fins or cake (regardless of baking
almost 3 times as many men responded method), and younger Canadians
affirmatively to this as women (32% to were less likely to report these compe-

11%), and those with less than post- tencies. Younger respondents (57%)
secondary education had significantly and men (64%) were less likely to report
lower cooking skills compared with ‘‘good/very good’’ skills with cooking
those with more than post-secondary soup/stew/casserole from scratch
education (Table 1). (57%) than were older respondents.
Reference group; bRespondent identified self as First Nations, Inuit, or Me

Overall, the majority of respondents Just over two-thirds of all respondents

reported using ‘‘mostly whole/basic (72%) reported high proficiency in

foods’’ when cooking; this ranged baking muffins/cakes from a mix,

from 68% for those 12–29 years old to whereas just under one-third (66%)
performed to compare proportions among demographic groups.

81% for the cohort 65 years and older. could bake muffins/cakes from scratch.
Female respondents were more likely Two-thirds (67%) of respondents
3 (240)

4 (330)

than male respondents to use mostly stated they were ‘‘good/very good’’ at
7 (30)

2 (30)

whole/basic foods during meal prepara- freezing vegetables, whereas over one-
tion, as were older Canadians, in com- third (37%) reported having similar
parison to those < 30 years of age skills with canning from raw fruits and
51 (4,160)

51 (4,375)

(P < .05), although there were no major

56 (250)

49 (680)

vegetables (Table 3). Sixty-two percent

differences in meal preparation habits of Canadians reported having adjusted
between socio-demographic groups. a recipe to make it healthier (Table 4).
Only 5% used mostly easy-to-prepare, The main adjustment was reducing fat
46* (3,780)

45* (3,905)

ready-to-eat, or takeout/delivery foods; content (50%), followed by adding veg-

37 (175)

49 (745)

however, more than twice as many etables or fruit (47%), reducing sugar
men used mainly convenience/takeout (46%), reducing salt (41%), and
food, as did those in the lowest income choosing whole-grain options (33%).
quartile compared with the highest Canadians 30–64 years of age were
(7% vs 3%). Three times the number more likely to adjust recipes. Although
*P < .05, **P < .01.

of those 12–29 years old (9%) re- women were more likely than men to
Immigration status

sponded affirmatively compared with modify recipes for health and choose
Aboriginal status

those 65 years and older (3%) (Table 1). whole-grain options (P < .001), men
Slightly fewer than half of respon- were more likely to reduce a recipe's
dents had a budget when grocery shop- salt content (P < .001).


ping, and three-quarters used a written Forty-two percent of respondents



list when grocery shopping (Table 2). grew vegetables, herbs, or fruits at

Male respondents were less likely than home or in a community garden.

490 Slater and Mudryj Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior  Volume 48, Number 7, 2016

There was no difference between men meals, and desserts; snacks including salty gender gap in food skills persists. This
and women, although younger re- snacks, candies, and ice cream); and soft could be because of division of labor
spondents (12–29 years of age) were drinks have increased from 37% of within households, where women are
less likely to do so than older respon- Canadians' calories in 1955 to 55% in still taking on more household food re-
dents (results not shown). 2009. Furthermore, in 2013, 52% of sponsibilities, but also because these
Canadians' food expenditures were on roles continue to be represented in me-
restaurant foods and non-‘‘whole/ dia and other social narratives.38 The
DISCUSSION basic’’ food items such as cookies, break- food delivery service named ‘‘Mom's
fast cereals and bars, soft drinks, Night Off’’ is just one example of the
Most Canadians thought they had fair candies, salty snacks, processed meat, normative discourse around domestic
to excellent eating habits, which is and frozen/ready-to-serve foods.31 food work.39 More information on
consistent with other survey reports, It is possible that these ultra-proces- household division of labor is required,
such as ‘‘Tracking Nutrition Trends sed foods were only being consumed at in particular with respect to food shop-
2013,’’ in which 77% of respondents times other than the ‘‘main meal.’’ ping and preparation.
felt they had ‘‘good’’ to ‘‘excellent’’ However, other reports indicate that The low number of respondents us-
eating habits.23 These findings, how- the majority of Canadians value conve- ing CFGHE as a resource for choosing
ever, contradict other empirical evi- nience because of busy schedules27,32 foods brings into question the Food
dence on Canadians' diets. According and are spending less time than ever Guide's value as an educational
to the latest population-based dietary in the kitchen. This would be consist- resource. Respondents were more in-
survey, the 2004 CCHS, 22% of total ent with other surveys, which show clined to consult the nutrition label
calories were obtained from foods that self-reported desired dietary be- of food products rather than use the
‘‘other’’ than the 4 basic food groups, haviors are over-reported, whereas food guide; however, men were much
typically having excess amounts of less-desired behaviors are reported less less likely than women to refer to
fat, sugar, and salt (fats, oils, added frequently because of social desir- either the Food Guide or nutrition la-
sugars, candy and snack foods, condi- ability.33,34 This was suggested in bels. This could be due to women
ments).24 In addition, over 25% of Ca- M&M Meat Shops' 2014 survey and consistently reporting higher engage-
nadians 31–50 years of age exceed the campaign ‘‘Family Dinner is on the ment in health-promoting behaviors
upper limit for fat intake, and 24.9% Decline: M&M Meat Shops than men and having greater under-
and 26.8% of Canadians 4–18 years Encourages Canadians to Bring Back standing of the relationship between
and 19 years of age and older have the Lost Art of Dinner.’’ The results of diet and health,40-42 whereas men
the majority of total fat coming from their survey showed that only 30% of view eating as ‘‘fuel’’ and part of a
fast foods, baked goods, and other Canadian families eat together every routine.43
snacks.25 Canadians also consume night, a 30% decrease from the year The high rates of proficiency at can-
more calories from snacks than break- before.35 This prompted the company ning and freezing vegetables are sur-
fast. Furthermore, fewer than half of to encourage Canadians to use their prising, given the previously cited
adults consume 5 or more servings of prepared, frozen products as a conve- reports of people's desire for conve-
fruits and vegetables per day (CCHS), nient way to ‘‘re-connect over dinner nience and less time in the kitchen.26,27
and only 15% are consuming the cur- and honor the tradition of the family However, it is to be noted that even
rent recommendation of 7 or more dinner.’’ This messaging indicates though the respondents may possess a
servings per day.24 These trends are that there may be confusion in peo- skill, it does not mean that they
corroborated in industry reports, ple's minds about what constitutes utilize it. These results clearly warrant
which state that snack foods are the ‘‘whole/basic’’ food, and therefore re- further investigation, although 1
fastest-growing sector in the food spondents may have misunderstood explanation may be a misunderstand-
economy, increasing more than 50% the survey question. ing of the question on respondents'
from 2000 to 2009, when snacks Younger Canadians were more part. Respondents were asked about
made up 24% of all meals.26 Surveys likely to use convenience foods. This their proficiency in ‘‘in freezing veget-
also consistently show that Canadians may be because they are single and ables or fruit, from raw to bagged in
seek convenience over nutrition.23,27 less likely to have food preparation re- your home freezer.’’ Freezing fruits or
Notably, few Aboriginal Canadians sponsibilities for other family mem- vegetables in plastic bags may seem
reported very good eating habits. This bers. This may also be reflective of straightforward if one does not know
may be reflective of high rates of food lower levels of food skills; fewer the requisite steps such as blanching.
insecurity, which are up to 3 times younger Canadians were adept at The contradictions between some of
that of the rest of Canadians.28-30 The making more complex dishes such as these results and other empirical data
vast majority of Canadians report soups and stews. This was consistent can lead to several interpretations,
that they are using mainly whole/ with reports of younger generations including: some of the survey ques-
basic ingredients for their main meal. having fewer food skills because of tions were not valid (ie, respondents
As with eating habits, these data seem lack of in-home learning and fewer misunderstood the meaning of the
somewhat contradictory to other formal educational opportunities to questions); respondents did not answer
empirical data. Monteiro et al4 re- learn about food and nutrition.14,36,37 the questions accurately due to social
ported that ultra-processed food drinks Almost one-third (32%) of men re- desirability (ie, they wanted to portray
(frozen foods such as prepared po- ported only having basic cooking themselves as having the ‘‘morally su-
tatoes, poultry, fish, and pizza, ready skills, which suggests that a significant perior’’ behaviors such as cooking
Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior  Volume 48, Number 7, 2016 Slater and Mudryj 491

from scratch and having ‘‘good’’ dietary

0.59** (0.50–0.70)

0.75* (0.61–0.92)
0.93 (0.76–1.13)
1.09 (0.91–1.31)
habits44,45; respondents believed they

Based on Nutrition Labels?

were engaging in better dietary habits

Ratio (CI)
Do You Select Foods

and food skill practices; or, finally,


that their responses are valid and the
other sources of empirical data are to
be questioned. To gain clarity into
these issues, it is first essential that
better data be generated on what
% Yes (n)
64 (5,665)

58 (2,185)
70 (3,475)

64 (1,165)
67 (2,150)
66 (1,640)
foods Canadians are in fact eating.

59 (710)
The upcoming 2015 Canadian Comm-
unity Health Survey (Nutrition), the
first national dietary survey since
2004, will provide new empirical
data to support or refute the self-
0.50** (0.43–0.59)

0.41** (0.32–0.52)
0.66** (0.53–0.82)
1.02 (0.86–1.23)
Do You Use Recommendations

reported assertion that Canadians'

Ratio (CI)

eating habits are good. Second, the



1.00 constructs used to determine people

From CFGHEa?

food habits should be better concep-

tualized and defined. Terms such as
‘‘whole foods,’’ ‘‘convenience,’’ and
‘‘ready-to-eat’’ are ambiguous and
open to much interpretation, as are
‘‘cooking’’ and ‘‘from scratch.’’
% Yes (n)
31 (3,110)

38 (2,150)

38 (1,255)

There are several limitations to this

24 (960)

19 (300)
28 (565)

37 (990)

study. The data were self-reported, and

it is well-accepted that desirable health
behaviors are over-reported and undesir-
able ones are under-reported.33,34 The
0.65** (0.55–0.77)

0.49** (0.39–0.62)
0.68** (0.55–0.85)
0.63** (0.51–0.79)

survey was cross-sectional, and this is

the first time these data have been
Ratio (CI)
Do You Use a Written

collected through any cycle of the




CCHS, so there are no comparative

Grocery List?

data. Finally, no dietary data were

collected from respondents; therefore
their self-reported dietary and meal prep-
aration habits and food skills cannot be
74 (6,725)

70 (2,680)
78 (4,050)

75 (1,380)
73 (2,430)
81 (2,085)

cross-checked with actual foods eaten.

% Yes

68 (835)

Nonetheless, this initial, nationally


representative survey provides impor-

Table 2. Self-Reported Grocery Planning Skills of Canadians

tant insights into Canadians' self-

perceived dietary habits and food skills.
0.70** (0.61–0.82)

2.86** (2.33–3.51)
1.84** (1.52–2.25)
1.50** (1.26–1.80)
When You Grocery Shop?

Ratio (CI)
Do You Have a Budget




Note: Using multivariate logistic regression.

Overall, the data in this study suggested

Canada’s Food Guide to Healthy Eating.

that Canadians believe they have good

eating habits and food skills, with
women having somewhat better food
% Yes (n)
48 (3,780)

43 (1,445)
52 (2,335)

45 (1,355)

skills than men. As shown, this is sup-

61 (700)
50 (885)

35 (840)

ported by other self-reported Canadian

survey data yet contradicted by other
empirical data including food disap-
*P < .01, **P < .001.

pearance data, population-based nutri-

tion survey data, and data from the

food industry. Nonetheless, this

research suggests that there are still
12–29 y
30–44 y
45–64 y

gender gaps with respect to food skills,

65þ y

and some younger Canadians appear


more disadvantaged than their older


counterparts with respect to food skills.

492 Slater and Mudryj Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior  Volume 48, Number 7, 2016

Although the study was conducted on

Note: Using multivariate logistic regression. Numbers reflect proportions of Canadians who categorize themselves as having ‘‘good or very good’’ habits by food prepa-
Baking Muffins/Cake
Canadian data, it is likely that similar
results could be found in other coun-

From Scratch

66 (7,005)

49 (2,190)
83** (4,590)

65 (1,540)
69 (1,365)
68 (2,305)
61 (1,670)
tries, in particular industrialized coun-

Good (n)
tries that have undergone the nutrition
transition12 and exhibit high consu-
mption rates of ultra-processed foods.11
These findings have implications for
formal and non-formal food skills
training programs in schools and com-
Pre-Packaged Mix

munity settings. Policymakers should

Baking Muffins/
Cake From a

re-think policies leading to the removal


72 (6,965)

58 (2,210)
86** (4,755)

75 (1,575)
75 (1,390)
74 (2,345)
59* (1,655)
Good (n)

of school-based home economics food

and nutrition courses.46,47 Further-
more, all children should have access
to life-skill courses that include budg-
eting, planning, cooking, and shop-
ping. In addition, policies and programs
should be implemented to improve
Cooking a Soup,
Stew, Casserole
From Scratch

the food security status of Aboriginal


75 (7,110)

64 (2,585)
86** (4,530)

57 (1,805)
80* (1,500)
82* (2,315)
82* (1,495)
Good (n)

Canadians.48,49 More research is

needed to ascertain the dietary and
food habits of Canadians and the
drivers of these habits, as well as to
clarify food skill competencies and
associated measurement methods.
Cooking a Piece
of Raw Meat/

88 (9,210)

85 (4,050)
91* (5,155)

75 (1,755)
93* (1,805)
94** (3,210)
89* (2,435)

Good (n)

Although results suggested that the
Reference group; EUse with caution (> 16.6% coefficient of variation < 33.3%).

vast majority of Canadians believe

that they have ‘‘good’’ eating habits,
Raw Ingredients
Canning From

this study also found that certain


37 (3,995)

31 (1,410)
42* (2,585)

39* (1,425)
45* (1,205)
Good (n)

groups, such as Aboriginal Canadians,

31 (720)
34 (645)

reported lower rates of ‘‘good’’ eating

habits. Additionally, this study also
observed gender and age gaps when it
came to self-rated food skills, which
suggests that there are several opportu-

68 (7,050)

64 (2,915)
73* (4,135)

59 (1,410)
72* (1,350)
73* (2,410)
70* (1,880)

nities for dietitians and other health


Good (n)

professionals to engage with Canadians

Table 3. Self-Rated Mechanical Skills of Canadians

around these issues. The results of this

study contribute to the emerging litera-
ture involving food skills. Findings
from this study have implications for
Peeling or

92 (9,485)

89 (4,225)
94* (5,260)

85 (1,975)
94* (1,800)
95* (3,220)
92* (2,495)

Good (n)

education and health promotion pro-

grams focusing on foods skills in Can-
ada as well as encouraging ideas to
create specific programs to appeal to
and reach target groups who may be
Knife Skills

94 (9,730)

94 (4,435)
95 (5,295)

90 (2,090)
95E* (1,830)
96* (3,245)
95* (2,565)
Good (n)

particularly vulnerable.
*P < .05, **P < .01.

ration activity.

Financial support was provided Uni-

Rating (%)

versity of Manitoba/Social Sciences

12–29 ya
30–44 y
45–64 y

and Humanities Research Council.

65þ y

The authors would like to extend


thanks to Dr Ian Clara and Kelly


Cranswick at the Manitoba Research

Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior  Volume 48, Number 7, 2016 Slater and Mudryj 493

Data Centre for their statistical help

Whole Grain Options?




Ratio (CI)
and support. The authors also thank




Did You Choose
the staff from the Office of Nutrition


Policy and Promotion at Health Can-
ada for their assistance.

33 (1920)

36 (1375)
% Yes

29 (545)

32 (335)

34 (445)

35 (720)

29 (415)
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Ratio (CI)
Vegetables or Fruit?
Did You Add More




mediacentre/factsheets/fs311/en/. Up-


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45 (1,010)
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52 (580)

49 (650)

43 (585)
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Sugar Content?


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51 (1,935)

50 (1,075)

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39 (425)

46 (560)

47 (630)

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38 (1,330)

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45 (870)

35 (335)

38 (450)

45 (870)

43 (545)

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Ratio (CI)
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7. Chenhall C. Improving cooking and food


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% Yes (n)
50 (2,900)

52 (2,005)

53 (1,140)

Health Agency of Canada; 2010.

47 (895)

43 (460)

53 (685)

45 (615)

8. Hartmann C, Dohle S, Siegrist M.

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Note: Using multivariate logistic regression.



to Make It Healthier?

Ratio (CI)
Adjusted a Recipe




9. Laska MN, Larson NI, Neumark-



Have You Ever

*P < .01, **P < .001, ***.1 < P < .05.

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in food preparation track from adoles-
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62 (6,285)

50 (2,185)

74 (4,100)

52 (1,180)

73 (1,370)

68 (2,310)

52 (1,425)

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Mhurchu CN, Waterlander WE. Ul-

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495.e1 Slater and Mudryj Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior  Volume 48, Number 7, 2016

The authors have not stated any con-
flicts of interest.