World Digestive Health Day: Obesity


Did you know May 29th is World Digestive Health Day?

Every year, the World Gastroenterology Organization (WGO) initiatives a yearlong, worldwide, public health campaign with focus on a particular digestive disease and/or disorder in order to increase general public awareness of prevention, prevalence, diagnosis, management and treatment of the disease/and or disorder. The theme for World Digestive Health Day 2021 is titled: Obesity: An Ongoing Pandemic. The goal for World Digestive Health Day (WDHD) 2021 is to raise awareness of obesity and its management. 

2020 was a very challenging year, and 2021 has presented its own challenges with the COVID-19 pandemic. At the same time, the ongoing pandemic of obesity impacts the world’s population with equally devastating but not as dramatic effects as COVID, which is why it’s this year’s focus for WDHD.  

Dietitians of Canada mentions that in Canada, chronic diseases account for approximately one third of direct health care costs.1 The Canadian population is aging,2 faces high rates of obesity,3,4 and engages in sedentary lifestyle behaviours.5,6 Thus the impact of chronic diseases is likely to continue to increase, unless we take action to address the many factors that influence what we eat. For example, the food and beverages we have at home, in retail food stores, and restaurants can have a big impact on what we eat and drink.

Not only does the food environment influence what we eat, but food marketing bombards us with an overload of messages on healthy eating. Food marketing is rapidly evolving, and now includes channels such as social media. This can make it hard for Canadians to make healthy eating choices. Throughout the month of May we will be sharing science-based, trusted resources on heathy eating, and outline some of our favourites below to help you navigate through the information.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says that knowing your body mass index (BMI), achieving and maintaining a healthy weight, and getting regular physical activity are all actions you can take for yourself to combat obesity. The key to achieving and maintaining a healthy weight isn’t short-term dietary changes; it’s about a lifestyle that includes healthy eating and regular physical activity.

When it comes to healthy eating, CDHF is aligned with Canada’s Food Guide, and always recommend working with a registered dietitian when you have specific dietary requirements like a lot of the digestive conditions we cover do.

Canada's Food Guide
  • Eat plenty of vegetables and fruits, whole grain foods and protein foods. Choose protein foods that come from plants more often.
    • Choose foods with healthy fats instead of saturated fat
  • Limit highly processed foods. If you choose these foods, eat them less often and in small amounts.
    • Prepare meals and snacks using ingredients that have little to no added sodium, sugars or saturated fat
    • Choose healthier menu options when eating out
  • Make water your drink of choice
    • Replace sugary drinks with water
  • Use food labels
  • Be aware that food marketing can influence your choices 7

It’s important to understand that the Canada’s food guide plate is a visual tool to help support a healthy pattern of eating. Healthy eating can look different for everyone.

The Canada’s Food guide encourages everyone to enjoy their food and make choices that reflect their personal preferences, culture and traditions, budget, life stage and lifestyle. It also recommends cooking more often, allowing people to make foods and choose ingredients that they like and that work for them and their families.

Health Canada recommends that individuals with specific dietary requirements should seek additional guidance or specialized dietary advice from a registered dietitian – which CDHF always recommends.

Resources to check out:


1. Public Health Agency of Canada. How healthy are Canadians? A trend analysis of the health of Canadians from a healthy eating and chronic disease perspective [Internet]. Ottawa: Public Health Agency of Canada; 2016 [cited 2018 Sep 14].

2. Statistics Canada. Age and sex, and type of dwelling data: key results from the 2016 census [Internet]. Ottawa: Statistics Canada; 2017 [cited 2018 Sep 14].

3. Statistics Canada. Body composition of adults, 2012 to 2013 [Internet]. Ottawa: Statistics Canada; 2014 [cited 2018 Sep 14]. 19. Rao DP, Kropac E, Do MT, Roberts KC, Jayaram

4. Rao DP, Kropac E, Do MT, Roberts KC, Jayaraman GC. Childhood overweight and obesity trends in Canada. Health Promot Chronic Dis Prev Can. 2016;36(9):194–198.

5. Statistics Canada. Directly measured physical activity of children and youth, 2012 and 2013 [Internet]. Ottawa: Statistics Canada; 2015 [cited 2018 Sep 14].

6. Statistics Canada. Directly measured physical activity of adults, 2012 and 2013 [Internet]. Ottawa: Statistics Canada; 2015 [cited 2018 Sep 14].

7. Eating Well with Canada’s Food Guide. » Health Canada, Government of Canada, 1 April 2021