How can you start eating healthier? This diet calculator quiz can help

By Sachintha Wickramasinghe

Different foods on forks
Encouraging education and discussion around food as preventative medicine is important because what you eat can greatly affect your risk of chronic disease. Photo: UBC and iStock

A new online tool can tell you how closely your eating habits adhere to Canadian dietary guidelines—and how you can reduce your chance of developing a chronic disease

The Dietary Pattern Calculator (DiPaC), developed by a cross-Canadian team led by University of British Columbia assistant professor Dr. Mahsa Jessri, is a screening tool that can help anyone make healthier food choices.

“In under 15 minutes, DiPaC can capture how healthy your diet is overall, compare it to other Canadians of the same age and sex, and provide tips on how to change your eating habits for the better,” said Dr. Jessri, assistant professor in the faculty of land and food systems and Canada research chair in nutritional epidemiology for population health.

DiPaC asks you a series of short questions about  your physical activity and home-cooking practices, and how often you eat from nine food groups like sugar-sweetened beverages, fast foods, salty snacks, dark green and orange vegetables, fruits, legumes and whole grains, among others.

Dr. Jessri’s research team identified these food groups as the strongest predictors of diet quality and non-communicable disease risk by studying the eating habits of more than 13,000 Canadians, as reported in the nutrition-specific version of the Canadian Community Health Survey.

Encouraging education and discussion around food as preventative medicine is important because what you eat can greatly affect your risk of chronic disease. According to a 2022 report from Diabetes Canada, 74.6 per cent of Canadian adults are not eating enough fruits and vegetables, and 46.2 per cent are physically inactive.

DiPaC was developed based on a North American diet using Canadian food surveys and nutritional data, so it won’t work for everyone—especially those adhering to special diets or with certain diseases, said Dr. Jessri.

Anyone can access DiPaC online at Project Big Life, a website that curates a number of health indicator calculators, led by Dr. Douglas Manuel, senior scientist in clinical epidemiology program at The Ottawa Hospital and distinguished professor in family medicine and public health at the University of Ottawa.

Take the dietary quiz here


Sachintha Wickramasinghe is a writer with UBC Media Relations. This article was republished on December 6, 2023, from UBC Media Relations, and modified with permission. Read the original article hereTo republish this article, contact UBC Media Relations.

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