Nutrition and society

Theme 6

Food, serving as both a source of pleasure and a means of communal sharing, plays a pivotal role in the evolution of societies. The food landscape has undergone substantial diversification over time, driven by the industrialization of the agri-food sector, globalization, technological advancements, and the blending of diverse cultures.


Our food choices are influenced by all aspects of our society. Understanding the physical, economic, political, and sociocultural factors is essential to prioritize key issues and contribute to the creation of environments that support access to quality food for everyone, especially vulnerable groups.

The vital roles of information and communication regarding our food supply in our daily lives are proving to be a crucial area of research. This research aims to promote effective knowledge mobilization and support the adoption of healthy and sustainable eating habits.



Literacy, Communication and Knowledge Mobilization

Food literacy encompasses a diverse range of knowledge, competencies, and behaviors that empower individuals to navigate a complex food environment. Similarly, the media environment plays a significant role in shaping the attitudes, beliefs, and values of communities, extending beyond mere information transmission. The mobilization of research knowledge plays a crucial role in ensuring the circulation of accurate and high-quality information to the public.

INAF researchers are actively engaged in projects that involve not only the general population but also vulnerable groups, aiming to facilitate informed decision-making regarding nutrition.

Values, Traditions and Food Cultures

Beyond providing sustenance, foods also serve as a means for individuals to express their culture, identity, values, and the traditions associated with eating. Moreover, one’s stance on certain foods or their sources can reflect a distinct vision of health and even convey a political position.

In this context, INAF researchers take a comprehensive approach to the food supply, conducting research projects to better comprehend the factors influencing present and future food choices.

Nutritional Epidemiology and Population Health

Nutritional epidemiology is a scientific discipline that investigates the connections between nutritional determinants and health issues, influencing the prevalence, progression, and distribution of these problems within the population.

The NutriQuébec project serves as an excellent example of a cohort study initiated by INAF researchers, involving thousands of Quebecers. Its primary objective is to gather long-term information on nutrition and health. Additionally, other researchers in nutritional epidemiology focus on specific population groups facing particular health concerns, such as pregnant women or individuals with cardiometabolic diseases.


Societal Determinants of the Sustainable Food Supply

Beyond its impact on health, diet plays a pivotal role in addressing collective challenges, including social inequalities in health, advancements in medicine, and climate change. People’s unique environments and living conditions shape their opportunities and behaviors differently.

To gain a deeper understanding of these issues, INAF researchers are exploring various aspects, such as structural constraints and the influence of natural or built environments on access to healthy foods. They are also investigating agri-food innovations and initiatives that support a sustainable food supply.


Areas of Expertise

  • Anthropology and sociology
  • Communication and knowledge transfer strategies
  • Public health nutrition and population health
  • Ethics, diversity, and inclusion
  • Indigenous knowledge

Research chairs

Canada Research Chair in Medical Humanities and History of Biological Thought

Holder: Pierre-Olivier Méthot
For more information


See all the themes

Our scientific program revolves around six major unifying themes.