Mary L'Abbé

Mary L'Abbé PhD
Department of Nutritional Sciences
Contact Info
T: (416) 946-7545
Medical Sciences Building, 5th Floor, Room 5368C
1 King's College Circle
Toronto, ON, M5S 1A8
Appointment Status Primary
Pending the availability of funding
PhD, Nutrition, McGill University, 1988

Professional Memberships:

International Committees (Present):

  • Scientific Advisor, Resolve to Save Lives, Bloomberg Philanthropies
  • Director, WHO Collaborating Centre on Nutrition Policy for Chronic Disease Prevention
  • 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):

  • Invited Expert, Health Canada meetings on Front of Pack Labelling, Ottawa
  • Invited Expert, Health Canada Policies on restricting marketing of unhealthy foods to children
  • Scientific Advisor to Senator Greene-Raine, on Bill S-228 - the Child Health Protection Act. An Act to amend the Food and Drugs Act (prohibiting food and beverage marketing directed at children)
  • Council on Mission: Priorities, Advice, Science and Strategy (CoMPASS), Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada

External Reviewer for Granting Agencies (Present):

  • Chair, USDA NP 107 Intramural Grant Review Panel 5. Mechanisms for Obesity, Mineral Absorption, Cancer (10/2018 to 04/2019)
  • Nutrition (NUT) Operating Grants review panel, CIHR (2012-2014); (2017-Present)
  • College of Reviewers, Canadian Institutes of Health Research (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)

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


Research Synopsis

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) assessments of 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) the development of 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.

Recent Theses/Graduate Projects Supervised

Evaluating Food Environment Policies for Dietary Sodium Reduction and Discretionary Food Fortification
Anthea Christoforou, Postdoctoral Fellow
09/2017 - Present
Nutrient Profiling (Mitacs Elevate recipient, Industry Canada)
Mavra Ahmed, Postdoctoral Fellow
09/2017 - Present
Examining changes in total and free sugar contents and modelling the impact of sugar reformulation strategies on the nutritional composition of Canadian prepackaged foods and beverages (Banting and Best Novo Nordisk Studentship Award)
Madyson Weippert, MSc student
09/2017 - Present
Examining the nutritional quality of the Canadian product portfolios of major packaged food and beverage companies (CIHR Doctoral Research Award; OGS)
Laura Vergeer, PhD student
09/2017 - Present
Assessment of products with child-appealing packaging in Canada: evidence to inform and monitor public health nutrition policy (CIHR Doctoral Research Award; OGS)
Christine Mulligan, PhD student
09/2016 - Present
Evaluating the nutritional quality of foods in the restaurant sector through cross-sectional and longitudinal analyses
Sarah Murphy, MSc student
09/2016 - Present
Characterizing Changes in the Dietary Patterns of Canadians: Evidence from Two Cycles of the Canadian Community Health Survey
Alena Ng, MSc student
09/2016 - Present
Nutrition claims on food packaging: Examination of current practices to monitor and inform policy (CIHR Doctoral Award; Banting and Best Doctoral Scholarship)
Beatriz Franco Arellano, PhD student
09/2015 - Present
Free Sugars in the Canadian Prepackaged Food Supply: Evidence to Inform Nutrition Labelling Regulations (OGS; CIHR Fellow in Population Intervention for Chronic Disease Prevention and CIHR Fellow in Public Health Policy)
Jodi Bernstein, PhD student
09/2014 - 08/2018
Alyssa Schermel, MSc, Research Assistant

Publications and Awards

View PubMed search of this faculty member's recent publications.

Honours and Awards

2018 - Order of Canada

The Order of Canada is how our country honours people who make extraordinary contributions to the nation. They exemplify the Order’s motto: DESIDERANTES MELIOREM PATRIAM (“They desire a better country”).

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