February 15, 2018
A version of this commentary appeared in the CBC News
What is a healthy diet?
New Year’s diet conversations still abound around water coolers Canada-wide as people debate the various merits and shortcomings of sugar, gluten, meat, dairy, tofu and other edibles. Scientific articles, shiny celebrities and representatives of various groups who produce, transform and sell food all compete for our attention as we try to figure out what to eat.
How is anyone supposed to know who to listen to?
Canadians’ traditional solution to this conundrum has…
July 26, 2017
The Earth’s climate is changing and the effects on health are well documented. What is less well known is how changing climate will affect the risk of vector-borne diseases. Insects, the vectors for many illnesses, are dependent on a consistent climate for survival, reproduction and development. Changes in temperature, precipitation and humidity can alter their distribution, potentially increasing the risk of disease transmission. As a result, vector surveillance could be used for potential disease surveillance.
Two well-known vector-borne illnesses in Canada are West…
April 11, 2017Self-driving cars are quickly moving into the fast lane as a new fleet of Google vehicles are hitting the road for testing in two American states, and are poised to enter the market as early as 2020. These autonomous vehicles (AVs) eliminate the need for a human driver and operate using a variety of computer mapping and sensory technologies.
October 19, 2016Back to school season is in full swing and children look forward to playing with friends at recess. However, in an era where schools have banned games such as tag and removed hard balls from the school yard in the interest of preventing injuries, the question is, are children still experiencing the freedom and excitement that once accompanied the recess bell?
August 3, 2016Fentanyl is a prescription drug and its use represents a growing public health crisis in some parts of our country. Reports of use and overdose deaths occur at regular intervals, with British Columbia declaring a public health emergency after overdoses killed 200 people in the first three months of 2016. Between 2009 and 2014, there were at least 655 fentanyl-related deaths in Canada, with an average of one death every three days – and this figure is probably an underestimate.
August 3, 2016No one likes the drilling and filling needed to repair a cavity, especially not children. Unfortunately, despite it being largely preventable, dental decay is the most common chronic disease for children, with 57% of those aged 6-11 years and 59% of youth 12-19 years having had a cavity. Several approaches are available to prevent cavities, ranging from regular brushing and flossing to more complex approaches, including the use of sealants, which must be applied by a dental professional.
August 3, 2016We all use social media. Platforms like Facebook, YouTube and Twitter have become integral parts of our day-to-day lives, and have even become tools for public health professionals. Facebook is used by many public health departments to share information, while Twitter has shown great promise for community engagement and rapid information dissemination. This is due to its interactive (push-and-pull) nature and the sheer amount of data that are shared on a daily basis. Users post 500 million tweets per day, for a total of 200 billion per year.
April 7, 2016Winter is ending and Canadians are coming out of hibernation, ready to play in the sun. While there is nothing wrong with soaking in some sunshine, there are risks.
April 7, 2016As summer approaches and warmer temperatures arrive, you might expect to see kids actively, independently playing outdoors; but they aren’t. In fact, Canadian children spend over 7.5 hours a day being sedentary, while less than 9% of 5-17 year olds achieve the overall benchmark physical activity levels (at least 60 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity per day to achieve health benefits). These levels of activity gave Canadian children a D minus for activity in the 2015 ParticipACTION Report Card on Physical Activity for Children and Youth.
January 26, 2016Baby boomers are the large group of individuals born between 1946 and 1965. In Canada, for the first time, this group comprises a larger percentage of the population (with 16.12% being 65 years and older) compared to youth less than 14 years of age (16.04% of our population). This trend is expected to continue into the mid-2030s, when it is projected that up to 25% of the population will be 65 years and older.