Biography | September 2019


Catherine L. Mah MD FRCPC PhD is Canada Research Chair in Promoting Healthy Populations and Associate Professor in the School of Health Administration, Faculty of Health at Dalhousie University.

She directs the Food Policy Lab, a multidisciplinary program of research on the environmental and policy determinants of diet and consumption, with a focus on health-promoting innovations in the food system. Her work integrates population health intervention research, policy science, and community action. She has led food and nutrition issue analyses in four provinces in Canada and internationally, with collaborators in Canada, Japan, and Australia. In addition, she regularly contributes expertise to aligned portfolios including cancer prevention, immunization, municipal governance, food security, and regulatory aspects of the food supply.

Dr. Mah previously held fellowships at the School of Public Policy and Governance at the University of Toronto, Kyoto University, Toronto Public Health, and the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health. She continues to hold an appointment as Associate Professor in the Dalla Lana School of Public Health at the University of Toronto.

Current research interests:

Refining measurement of the environmental determinants of diet and consumption, as well as the socio-economic patterning of consumption disparities.

Working with retailers to strengthen implementation and evaluation of double-duty environmental and policy interventions to produce healthier consumption, including integrated measurement of health and social outcomes, such as purchasing, diet quality, and sustainability.

Identifying effective strategies to improve policy coherence in promoting healthy consumption, with attention to the regulatory context for food distribution and retail business development, diffusion of innovations, and framing of policy options.

Current projects:

  • In 2019 we will launch Healthy Stores NL (2019-2022, Heart and Stroke Foundation), a new provincewide study of the consumer food environment in Newfoundland and Labrador, with a special focus on retailer support and engagement.

  • Through Investigating the Cost and Correlates of a Healthy Diet in Canada (2019-2020, Canadian Institutes of Health Research), we will examine the impact of diet costs on dietary adequacy in Canada at a population level; and look at regional and interprovincial disparities in the cost of a healthy diet for Atlantic Canada.

  • With Dr. Julie Brimblecombe and Australian colleagues, Dr. Mah is a Chief Investigator for Healthy Stores 2020 (2019-2021, Australian National Health and Medical Research Council), a partnership between nutrition researchers and the Arnhem Land Progress Aboriginal Corporation to assess health and business impacts of sugar merchandising in remote Indigenous community stores.

  • Grocery Gateways (2019-2021, Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council), will investigate how public policy can support and grow the business potential for healthy retailing in Atlantic Canada.

  • With Dr. Anna Peeters and Australian colleagues, Dr. Mah is an Associate Investigator in the RE-FRESH Centre for Research Excellence (2019-2024, Australian National Health and Medical Research Council) to support healthy retail food environment research, capacity building, and knowledge exchange.

  • With Dr. Irena Knezevic at Carleton University, Dr. Mah is Atlantic Canada co-lead for FLEdGE, Food: Locally Embedded, Globally Engaged (2015-2020, Canadian Institutes of Health Research), a global research partnership on sustainable food systems led by Wilfrid Laurier University funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council.

  • FRESH-IT (2015-2019, Canadian Institutes of Health Research) was a knowledge exchange initiative with public health practitioners in Newfoundland and Labrador, Ontario, and British Columbia to support the development of context-relevant healthy retailing interventions. This project wrapped in 2019 and we will continue to share outcomes as they become available.

  • With Dr. Lynn McIntyre at the University of Calgary, Dr. Mah was co-lead of the policy projects for the PROOF: Food Insecurity Policy Research research program, which continues to share knowledge and promote evidence-informed policy options to address household food insecurity in Canada.

Faculty Websites

Dalhousie University, Faculty of Health
University of Toronto, Dalla Lana School of Public Health
University of Toronto, School of Public Policy and Governance


Media | Opinion

In Defence of Canada’s Food Guide [read at The Conversation Canada] Article for The Conversation | February 1, 2019

Basic income: A no-brainer in economic hard times [read at The Conversation Canada] Article for The Conversation | August 2, 2018

Public health is everything [listen at GSJ & Co or iTunes] Podcast episode S2E2 of Welcome to the Food Court for GSJ & Co | original air date October 31, 2016

So you think food insecurity is a big deal? [read the piece at Wayne Roberts' blog and learn more at the PROOF conference page] Feature story on PROOF food insecurity conference | December 6, 2016

Promoting healthier diets in rural and remote communities [read at PLoS] Blog post for PLoS Translational Global Health blog | October 11, 2016

Healthy food for all [listen on SoundCloud] Internet radio interview with Elling Lien for Food First NL | original air date October 28, 2015

Household food insecurity in Newfoundland and Labrador [download 2014 PROOF report] Radio interview with Fred Hutton for VOCM Local News Now | December 14, 2015

Healthy corner stores–healthy communities [read Telegram] [download 2015 Vital Signs Report] Interview and profile of Healthy Corner Stores NL project | October 5, 2015

A fresh take on local food policy [read via the Harris Centre] Interview by Cathy Newhook for FaceForward | July 9, 2015

Healthy Corner Stores NL | Radio interview with Fred Hutton for VOCM Local News Now | June 30, 2015

St. John’s deemed a food swamp by experts [read The Overcast] Piece on our Engage Memorial public workshop by Terri Coles in The Overcast | June 17, 2015

New food policy council in St. John’s will help create a stronger food system [read The Overcast] By Amy Stoodley for The Overcast | June 2, 2015

Healthy corner stores initiative to benefit both business and community [read The Overcast] By Erin Power for The Overcast | June 3, 2015

What's for lunch? A panel discussion on food [listen at Beyond the Headlines] Podcast interview for Beyond the Headlines | May 5, 2013

Food insecurity: uncomfortable food truths | Profile by W. Roberts for CrossCurrents | Spring 2012


Visual Credits: Most event design and project logos by Perfect Day and Donderdag. Eatrip poster New People Entertainment. Photography by CL Mah and GW Schnitzler. Website by CL Mah on Squarespace, 2018 all rights reserved.