Mary R. L'Abbé, Ph.D.
Earle W. McHenry Professor and Chair
Department of Nutritional Sciences

Ph: (416) 978-7235; Fax: (416) 971-2366
Cell: (416) 605-1902

Primary Affiliations:

  • Dept. of Nutritional Sciences

Other Affiliations:


  • Ph.D. Nutrition, McGill University, 1988

Awards and Recognition (past 5 years):

  • 2014 World Hypertension League Notable Achievement in Dietary Salt Reduction Awardee, World Hypertension League, Hertfordshire, United Kingdom
  • 2012 Earle W. Crampton Award for Leadership in Nutrition, McGill University
  • 2011 Certificate of Excellence Award for contributions in reducing dietary sodium in Canada and internationally, Hypertension Canada
  • 2010 Earle Willard McHenry Award for Distinguished Service in Nutrition, Canadian Nutrition Society

Professional Memberships:

International Committees (Present):

  • World Health Organization (WHO) Global Coordination Mechanism on the Prevention and Control of NCDs
  • Chair, PAHO/WHO Technical Advisory Group on Cardiovascular Disease Prevention through Dietary Salt/sodium Reduction
  • International Obesity Task Force, International Network for Food and Obesity/NCDs Research, Monitoring and Action Support (INFORMAS)
  • World Obesity Federation, Scientific and Technical Advisory Network
  • WHO Nutrition Guidance Expert Advisory Group (NUGAG) and member of the Diet and Health sub-committee

National Committees (Present):

  • Council on Mission: Priorities, Advice, Science and Strategy (CoMPASS), Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada

External Reviewer for Granting Agencies (Present):

  • College of Reviewers, CIHR Foundation Grants

Membership and Participation in Scientific Committees (Present):

  • Canadian Nutrition Society (CNS)
  • American Society for Nutrition (ASN)
  • Dietitians of Canada (DC)
  • Canadian Obesity Network (CON)
  • Partnership for Advancing Nutritional and Dietary Assessment in Canada (PANDA-C)

Serve on several University of Toronto scientific, administrative and executive committees


My Food and Nutrition Policy for Population Health research program provides an evidence base to support public health nutrition policy in areas such as health claims on foods, front-of-pack labelling, children's marketing on foods, nutritional quality of packaged and restaurant foods, menu labelling, food fortification, food-like natural health products, trans fat, sodium, and sugar. Research approaches include: (i) consumer surveys on knowledge, attitudes and behaviours related to foods and nutrition; (ii) assessing the nutritional quality of Canadian foods; (iii) the development and evaluation of mobile apps to motivate and enable consumers to improve their dietary intakes; and (iv) developing methods for, assessing, and modelling population intakes using national food consumption surveys. My group has developed two large national food databases which have been used to answer a number of policy related research questions, and also serve as the basis of our consumer apps.

Current Students:

  • Marie-Eve Labonte, Post Doctoral Fellow, "Evaluation of nutrient profiling methods for public health nutrition and nutrition regulation"
  • Beatriz Franco Arellano, PhD student, "Regulating nutrition interpretative claims on food packaging: The potential benefits to population health by influencing changes in dietary intake towards healthy-eating habits"
  • Jodi Bernstein, PhD student, "Evaluating the quantity and type of sugars in the diets of Canadians"
  • Mahsa Jessri, PhD student, "Association of major dietary patterns with obesity and chronic disease risk in the Canadian population"
  • Mary Scourboutakos, PhD student, "Restaurants, fast-food and interventions to promote healthy eating when eating-out"
  • Mavra Ahmed, PhD student, "Development and Validation of Mobile App Technology for Dietary Assessments"
  • Sheida Noorhosseini, MSc student, "PAUSE - Prevalence and consumer attitudes, understanding, and use of supplemented foods in Canada"
  • Min Ah Kim, 3rd year research project, "Investigation of the use of partially hydrogenated vegetable oils in Canadian foods"
  • Christine Mulligan, 3rd year research project, "Nutrient Profiling of foods marketed to children"
  • Alyssa Schermel, MSc, Research Assistant

Recent Publications:

See PubMed for full list

  • Jessri M, Lou WY, L'Abbe MR. 2015. Evaluation of different methods to handle misreporting in obesity research: evidence from the Canadian national nutrition survey. Br J Nutr. 2016 Jan;115(1):147-59. doi: 10.1017/S0007114515004237. Epub 2015 Nov 2.
  • Schermel A, Wong CL, L'Abbe MR. 2015. Are Foods with Fat-Related Claims Useful for Weight Management? Appetite. 2015 Sep 8;96:154-159. doi: 10.1016/j.appet.2015.09.003. [Epub ahead of print] PMID: 26362994
  • Jessri M, L'Abbe MR. 2015. The time for an updated Canadian Food Guide has arrived. Appl Physiol Nutr Metab 40: 1–4 (2015) Epub 2015 Jul 9.
  • Poelman MP, Eyles H, Dunford E, Schermel A, L'Abbe MR, Neal B, Seidell JC, Steenhuis IH, Ni Mhurchu C. Package size and manufacturer-recommended serving size of sweet beverages: a cross-sectional study across four high-income countries. Public Health Nutr. 2015 Jul 7:1-9. [Epub ahead of print] PMID: 26148431
  • Campbell N, Legowski B, Legetic B, Nilson E, L'Abbé M. 2015. Inaugural maximum values for sodium in processed food products in the Americas. J Clin Hypertens (Greenwich). 2015 Aug;17(8):611-3 PMID: 25903047
  • Vandevijvere S, Swinburn B. for the International Network for Food and Obesity/non-communicable diseases (NCDs) Research, Monitoring and Action Support (INFORMAS). Pilot test of the Healthy Food Environment Policy Index (Food-EPI) to increase government actions for creating healthy food environments. BMJ Open. 2015 Jan 9;5(1):e006194. doi: 10.1136/bmjopen-2014-006194. PMID: 25575874.
  • 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.
  • 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
  • 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
  • Scourboutakos MJ, Corey PN, Mendoza J, Henson SJ, L'Abbé MR. 2014. Restaurant menu-labelling: Is it worth adding sodium to the label? Can J Public Health, 2014; 31;105(5): e354-61. PMID: 25365270
  • Fitzpatrick L, Arcand J, L'Abbe MR, Deng M, Duhaney T, Campbell NRC. 2014. Accuracy of Canadian Food Labels for Sodium Content of Food. Nutrients 2014; 22; 6(8):3326-35.
  • Arcand J, Au JT, Schermel A, L'Abbe MR. A comprehensive analysis of sodium levels in the Canadian packaged food supply. Am J Prev Med 2014;46(6):633-42. doi: 10.1016/j.amepre.2014.01.012. PMID: 24842740
  • 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
  • Ratnayake WMN, L'Abbé MR, Farnworth S, Dumais L. et al. 2009. Trans- fatty acids: Current contents in Canadian foods and estimated intake levels for the Canadian population. J. AOAC Int 2009;92:1258-77

Recent Published Government/Agency Reports and/or reports submitted to government:

  • L'Abbe MR. Written comments to Health Canada on Canada Gazette, Part I proposal to revise the Nutrition Labelling Regulations. (August 2015); Written comments to Health Canada on proposed revisions to the Nutrition Labelling Regulations (September 2014); written comments on Proposed Revisions to Schedule M reference amounts. (August 2014)
  • WHO Guideline on Sugars intake for adult and children. Geneva, World Health Organization (WHO), 2015. Available at:
  • WHO Guideline: Sodium intake for adults and children*. Geneva, World Health Organization (WHO), 2012. Available at:
  • WHO Guideline: Potassium intake for adults and children*. Geneva, World Health Organization (WHO), 2012. Available at:
  • PAHO/WHO Technical Advisory Group on Salt Reports: (i) A Guide for Setting Targets and Timelines to reduce the Salt content of food* 2013; (ii) Improving Public Health in the Americas by Optimizing Sodium and Iodine Intakes.2013; (iii) Survey on knowledge, attitude and behaviour toward dietary salt and health protocol. 2012; (iv) Questionnaire on Knowledge, Attitudes, Behaviour toward Dietary Salt and Health.
  • WPAHO/WHO Expert Group on Cardiovascular Disease Prevention through Population-wide Dietary Salt Reduction Reports: (i) PAHO Salt Smart Americas- Guide for Action in the Countries*. 2013 (ii) White Paper on Improving Public Health by Optimizing Salt and Iodine Intakes. 2011; (iii) WHO/PAHO Regional Expert Group for Cardiovascular Disease Prevention through Population-Wide Dietary Salt Reduction - Final Report*. 2011; (vi) Protocol for Population Level Sodium Determination in 24-Hour Urine Samples 2010; (v) A Review of Methods to Determine the Main Sources of Salt in the Diet* 2010; (v) Questionnaire on Knowledge, Attitudes, Behaviour toward Dietary Salt and Health. 2010.
  • Emrich TE, L'Abbe MR. (2014) Nutrition Labelling Education Research Synthesis. Report submitted to Office Nutrition Policy and Promotion, Health Canada (January 2014).

Consumer Tools and Apps:




Department of Nutritional Sciences
Faculty of Medicine, University of Toronto
FitzGerald Building
150 College Street, Room 315
Toronto, ON M5S 3E2