Canadian Journal of Public Health

, Volume 105, Issue 5, pp e324–e329 | Cite as

Exploring Public Health’s roles and limitations in advancing food security in British Columbia

  • Barbara A. SeedEmail author
  • Tim M. Lang
  • Martin J. Caraher
  • Aleck S. Ostry
Qualitative Research


OBJECTIVES: This research analyzes the roles and limitations of Public Health in British Columbia in advancing food security through the integration of food security initiatives into its policies and programs. It asks the question, can Public Health advance food security? If so, how, and what are its limitations?

METHODS: This policy analysis merges findings from 38 key informant interviews conducted with government and civil society stakeholders involved in the development of food security initiatives, along with an examination of relevant documents. The Population Health Template is used to delineate and analyze Public Health roles in food security.

RESULTS: Public Health was able to advance food security in some ways, such as the adoption of food security as a core public health program. Public Health’s leadership role in food security is constrained by a restricted mandate, limited ability to collaborate across a wide range of sectors and levels, as well as internal conflict within Public Health between Food Security and Food Protection programs.

CONCLUSIONS: Public Health has a role in advancing food security, but it also faces limitations. As the limitations are primarily systemic and institutional, recommendations to overcome them are not simple but, rather, require movement toward embracing the determinants of health and regulatory pluralism. The results also suggest that the historic role of Public Health in food security remains salient today.


Food security public health population health template determinants of health regulatory pluralism 


OBJECTIFS: Notre étude analyse les rôles et les contraintes de la Santé publique en Colombie-Britannique pour favoriser la sécurité alimentaire par l’intégration d’initiatives de sécurité alimentaire dans ses politiques et ses programmes. Nous posons la question suivante: la Santé publique peut-elle favoriser la sécurité alimentaire? Si oui, comment et sous quelles contraintes?

MÉTHODE: Cette analyse des politiques regroupe les constatations de 38 entretiens avec des informateurs du gouvernement et de la société civile intervenant dans l’élaboration d’initiatives de sécurité alimentaire et examine les documents pertinents. Le Modèle de promotion de la santé de la population a servi à délimiter et à analyser les différents rôles de la Santé publique en matière de sécurité alimentaire.

RÉSULTATS: La Santé publique a pu favoriser la sécurité alimentaire à certains égards, notamment en en faisant un programme de santé publique de base. Le rôle directeur de la Santé publique en matière de sécurité alimentaire est limité par son mandat restreint, sa capacité limitée de collaborer avec un vaste éventail de secteurs et de niveaux, ainsi que par l’opposition interne, au sein de la Santé publique, entre les programmes de sécurité alimentaire et de protection des aliments.

CONCLUSIONS: La Santé publique a un rôle à jouer pour favoriser la sécurité alimentaire, mais elle affronte aussi des contraintes. Comme ces contraintes sont principalement systémiques et institutionnelles, les recommandations pour les surmonter ne sont pas simples, mais exigent un mouvement en faveur des déterminants de la santé et du pluralisme réglementaire. Nos résultats donnent aussi à penser que le rôle historique de la Santé publique en matière de sécurité alimentaire est encore fondamental aujourd’hui.


sécurité des aliments santé publique modèle de promotion de la santé de la population déterminants de la santé pluralisme réglementaire 


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Copyright information

© The Canadian Public Health Association 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Barbara A. Seed
    • 1
    Email author
  • Tim M. Lang
    • 1
  • Martin J. Caraher
    • 1
  • Aleck S. Ostry
    • 2
  1. 1.Centre for Food PolicyCity University LondonLondonUK
  2. 2.Department of Geography, Faculty of Social SciencesUniversity of VictoriaVictoriaCanada

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