Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences


INFORMAS in Canada is led by Dr. Mary L’Abbé.

INFORMAS work is ongoing in Canada in 8 of the 9 modules. Food composition data has been collected using the Food Labelling Information Program (FLIP), led by Dr. L’Abbé and includes data on over 25,000 products (i.e. >10,000 products collected in 2010 and >15,000 products in 2013). An additional FLIP data collection will occur in summer 2017. Data analysis is ongoing, and we expect several publications and presentations on this data throughout 2017 in both the food composition, food labelling, food price and food promotion modules. Food-EPI work is on-going, and will be completed by June 2017, and pilot work on the private sector module using the BIA-Obesity tool is underway.



Acknowledgements / Funders


photo of Mary L'Abbe

Professor Mary L'Abbe

Earle W. McHenry Professor, and Chair, Department of Nutritional Sciences
Faculty of Medicine, University of Toronto
Toronto, Canada

Phone: +1 416 978 7235; mobile +1 416 605 1902

Email: Professor Mary L'Abbe

Lana Vanderlee

Dr Lana Vanderlee

CIHR Banting Postdoctoral Fellow
Department of Nutritional Sciences, Faculty of Medicine

University of Toronto

Food-EPI and Private Sector modules

Email: Dr Lana Vanderlee

Marie-Eve Labonte

Dr Marie-Ève Labonté

CIHR Postdoctoral Fellow
Department of Nutritional Sciences, Faculty of Medicine

University of Toronto

Price module

Email: Dr Marie-Ève Labonté

Beatriz Franco Arellano

Beatriz Franco Arellano

PhD Candidate
Department of Nutritional Sciences, Faculty of Medicine

University of Toronto

Labelling module

Email: Beatriz Franco Arellano

Liea Minaker

Dr. Leia Minaker

Assistant Professor
School of Planning, Faculty of Environment

University of Waterloo

Retail module

Email: Dr Leia Minaker

Module Status (as of  03/08/17) Outputs
Public Sector (Food EPI) - Documents verified, rating process to take palce May/June 2017 
Private Sector

-Methods development

-Contacting restaurant companies                         

3, 4 
Food Composition

-Data collection and analyses completed for 2010 and 2013; 

-Data collection for 2017 

6-8, 10-11, 13-14 ,17-19 
Food Labelling -Data collection and claims analysis completed for 2013  5, 9, 12, 16 
Food Promotion

-Information for packaged foods collected in 2010 and 2013 

-Data collection for other media sources is in discussion 

Food Prices

-Data collection completed

-Data quality verification completed

-Final analyses to be conducted in Summer 2017 

Food Retail

-Leia Minaker (U Waterloo) and her team are leading the INFORMAS Retail Module - Canada. 

-She worked with Health Canada to develop a retail food environment assessment manual for Canadian communities, which is currently being piloted in communities across Canada.

-She is co-lead of the FRESH-IT project, which is a CIHR-funded knowledge-to-action grant that has worked for four smail- to mid-size municipalities across Canada to assess the retail food environment and plan for interventions. 

Food Provision -Hospital foods analysed  15, 20, 21 
Food Trade & Investment    


Outputs (publications, reports, conference presentations)

This is a synopsis of INFORMAS-related work by Canada to date.

Several INFORMAS Canada outputs are expected in 2017, including several accepted abstracts for presentation at ISBNPA conference in Victoria Canada, and the Canadian Nutrition Society Conference in Montreal, Canada:

1.    Labonté ME, Noorhosseini S, Bernstein J, Ahmed M, L’Abbé MR. Are Foods of Higher Nutritional Quality More Expensive Than Their Less Healthy Counterparts? An Analysis of Canadian Packaged Foods. Abstract published in FASEB J. 2016;30:131.7. Presented at Experimental Biology (EB) 2016, April 3rd, 2016, San Diego Convention Center, San Diego, CA. Available from: http://www.fasebj.org/content/30/1_Supplement/131.7 [Oral presentation + Finalist in the ASN Emerging Leaders in Nutrition Science Poster Competition].

2.    Vanderlee L, Karbasy K, L’Abbe MR. An analysis of government action regarding food environment policies in Canada by jurisdiction. (To be presented May 25, 2017 - Poster). Canadian Nutrition Society Annual Meeting. Montreal, Canada.

3.    Vergeer L, Vanderlee L, Kent MP, L’Abbé MR. Commitments and actions regarding marketing to children on company websites of major packaged food companies in Canada. (To be presented May 25, 2017 - Poster). Canadian Nutrition Society Annual Meeting. Montreal, Canada.

4.    Vanderlee L, Sacks G, Vergeer L, Robinson E, Vandevijvere S, Swinburn B, L’Abbé M for INFORMAS. Examining food environment policies of major chain restaurants in Canada. (To be presented June 9, 2017 – Oral). International Society for Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity Annual Meeting. Victoria, Canada.

5.    Beatriz Franco-Arellano MSc, Min Ah Kim BSc, Stefanie Vandevijvere PhD, Jodi T. Bernstein RD, Marie-Ève Labonté PhD, and Mary L’Abbé. PhD. "Healthfulness of Canadian packaged food products with and without health-related claims: An INFORMAS-based approach". (October 2017 – Abstract to be sent). International Congress of Nutrition. Buenos Aires, Argentina.

6.    Bernstein JT, Schermel A, Mills CM, L'Abbé MR. 2016. Total and free sugar content of Canadian prepackaged foods and beverages. Nutrients. 2016;8(9): E582.

7.    Arcand J, Jefferson K, Schermel A, Shah F, Trang S, Kutlesa D, Lou W, L'Abbe MR. 2016. Examination of food industry progress in reducing the sodium content of packaged foods in Canada: 2010 to 2013. Appl Physiol Nutr Metab. 2016 Jun;41(6):684-90. doi: 10.1139/apnm-2015-0617. Epub 2016 Apr 26. PMID: 27113326

8.    Semnani-Azad Z, Scourboutakos MJ, L’Abbé MR.  2016. Kids’ Meals from Chain Restaurants: Exceedingly High in Calories, Fats, and Sodium. BMC Nutrition 2016: 2:16 doi:10.1186/s40795-016-0056-8.

9.    Schermel A, Wong CL, L’Abbé MR. 2016. Are Foods with Fat-Related Claims Useful for Weight Management? Appetite 2016;96:154-159. doi: 10.1016/j.appet.2015.09.003.

10.  Scourboutakos MJ, Semnani-Azad Z, L'Abbe MR. 2015. Added Sugars in Kids’ Meals from Chain Restaurants. Prevent Med Rep EPub Available Online 1 Dec 2014.  http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2211335514000163

11.  Scourboutakos MJ, L’Abbe MR. 2014. Changes in sodium levels in chain restaurant foods in Canada (2010-2013): a longitudinal study. Can Med Assoc J Open 2014 Oct 1;2(4):E343-51. doi: 10.9778/cmajo.20140028. PMID: 25553327

12.Emrich TE, Qi Y, Cohen JE, Lou WY, L'Abbe MR. 2015. Front-of-pack symbols are not a reliable indicator of products with healthier nutrient profiles. Appetite 2015; 84(1): 148-153. (featured on www.foodnavigator.com)

13.Arcand J, Scourboutakos MJ, Au JT, L’Abbe MR. 2014 Trends in trans fatty acids in the Canadian food supply: an updated analysis. Am J Clin Nutr. 2014;100(4):1116-23. Epub 2014 Aug 6

14.Arcand J, Au JTC, Schermel A, L’Abbe MR. 2014. A comprehensive analysis of sodium levels in the Canadian packaged food supply. Am J Prev Med 2014;46(6):633–642. 

15. L'Abbé M, Schermel A, Minaker L, Kelly B, Lee A, Vandevijvere S, Twohig P, Barquera S, Friel S, Hawkes C, Kumanyika S, Lobstein T, Ma J, Macmullan J, Mohan S, Monteiro C, Neal B, Rayner M, Sacks G, Sanders D, Snowdon W, Swinburn B, Walker C. INFORMAS. Monitoring foods and beverages provided and sold in public sector settings, Obesity Reviews, 2013; 14(S1), 96-107

16.Schermel A, Emrich TE, Arcand J, Wong CL, L'Abbé MR. 2013.  Nutrition marketing on processed food packages in Canada: 2010 Food Label Information Program. Appl Physiol Nutr Metab. 2013; 38(6):666-72.

17.Scourboutakos MJ, Semnani-Azad Z, L'Abbe MR. 2013.  Restaurant Meals: Almost a Full Day's Worth of Calories, Fats, and Sodium.  JAMA Intern Med. 2013; 173(14):1373-4.

18.Scourboutakos MJ, L’Abbé MR. 2013. Sodium Levels in Canadian Fast-food and Sit-down Restaurants. Can J Public Health 2013; 104(1):e2-e8.

19.Scourboutakos MJ, L’Abbé MR. 2012. Restaurant menus: calories, caloric density, and serving size. Am J Prevent Med. 43(3):249-255.

20.Arcand J, L’Abbe M, Newton G. 2013. Hospital Salt --- Reply.  Response to Morton Satin’s (Salt Institute) letter regarding study "Evaluation of sodium levels in hospital patient menus", JAMA Intern Med. 2013 Mar 11;173(5):391-2.

21.Arcand J, Steckham K, Tzianetas R, L'Abbé MR, Newton GE.  2012. Evaluation of sodium levels in hospital patient menus. Arch Intern Med. 2012; 172 (16) 1261-62. doi:10.1001/archinternmed.2012.2368