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Survey finds Canadians plan on dieting less and donating more to food banks in 2021


HALIFAX — Fewer Canadians plan to improve their diet as a New Year's resolution in 2021, and are thinking of donating to local food banks instead, a new survey reveals.

The survey, released Friday by Dalhousie University and Angus Reid, found the number of people planning to donate to a local food bank in 2021 doubled to 16 per cent, up from eight per cent last year.

Only 30 per cent of Canadians surveyed plan on changing their diet and eating healthier in 2021 — a 28 per cent drop compared with last year.

"It seems Canadians are overlooking personal issues and considering the big picture," said Sylvain Charlebois, senior director of the Agri-Food Analytics Lab at the Halifax university.

"They may not want to take care of themselves but they want to take care of others."

Charlebois said he was surprised by the results given public discussion about weight gain during the pandemic and the so-called quarantine 15.

"At some point I believe people will feel the need to address their own health, but they're apparently not ready to do that at this point," he said.

Meanwhile, the survey found 32 per cent of Canadians feel the pandemic will impact their ability to pay for food in 2021.

The cost of vegetables was the top concern of people polled, followed by fruits and meat.

Yet only 43 per cent of Canadians said they would change their shopping habits, down from 53 per cent last year, and only 34 per cent said they would visit a different retail store, down from 48 per cent.

The survey said this is likely to do with fears of catching the novel coronavirus.

"Familiarity of a store appears to be critical during a pandemic," said the report that accompanied the poll's results.

Another finding tied to the COVID-19 outbreak appears to be the increasing interest in growing a garden.

The poll found 30 per cent of Canadians plan to grow a garden in 2021, up from 12 per cent last year.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 18, 2020.

Brett Bundale, The Canadian Press

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