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A new food guide, an effective flu vaccine, and more in this week’s top health news.

Health News Recap

  • Health Canada released a new food guide that no longer focuses on food groups or serving sizes but rather on eating “plenty of vegetables and fruits, whole grain foods and protein foods.” The guide, last revised in 2007, also recommends that Canadians cook more often and be mindful of their eating habits, and that families eat meals together.
  • The influenza vaccine has proven highly effective this year, according to Alberta Health Services. It has reduced the risk of illness from the H1N1 strain by about 72%, according to preliminary reports.
  • There have been at least 29 deaths attributed to resident-on-resident violence in Ontario long-term care facilities over the past six years, according to the Ontario Health Coalition. The homicides typically involve at least one patient exhibiting dementia-related aggression.
  • The Saskatchewan government must do more to reduce youth smoking, according to the Saskatchewan Medical Association and other health organizations. The province has the highest rate of youth smoking in Canada (21.9% of residents age 15–19 smoke, almost three times the national average of 8%).
  • Adults in Ontario are reporting more mental health problems, according to a survey by the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health. Reports of fair or poor mental health increased from 7.1% to 10.1% between 2016 and 2017, and thoughts of suicide increased from 2.3% to 4.1%.
  • The Ontario government signed two bilateral deals with Health Canada. One deal is for $4.3 billion over 10 years (mental health, addiction services, home and community care) and the other for $51.1 for one year (opioid crisis).
  • Starting solid food earlier in infants’ lives may help prevent food allergies, particularly among children at high risk of egg and peanut allergies, according to a practice point published by the Canadian Paediatric Society. It was previously recommended that solid foods be introduced around six months of age, but that has been moved back to four months.
  • The Eskasoni First Nation in Nova Scotia has reported multiple suicides recently and an Aboriginal advocacy group is asking the federal government for additional funding for mental health services. The funding would go toward a distress line, a clinical therapist, focus groups and suicide prevention training.
  • The government of the North West Territories has proposed a tax of five cents per 100ml for pre-packaged high-sugar beverages (fountain drinks will be taxed according to size). The goal is to reduce obesity and diabetes, but many residents have expressed anger over the proposed tax.
  • A group of Ontario doctors and several religious groups for physicians are challenging a court decision that compels doctors to give referrals for medical services that conflict with their moral or religious beliefs. There is no evidence that not providing such referrals inhibits patients’ ability to access medical services, they argue.

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