Faculty Member

Catherine L. Mah MD (University of Calgary) FRCPC PhD (University of Toronto)

Email Address(es)
catherine.mah@mun.ca, catherine.mah@utoronto.ca
Office Phone
Office Address
Division of Community Health and Humanities, Faculty of Medicine, Memorical University of Newfoundland Health Sciences Centre, Room 2840, 300 Prince Philip Drive St. John's, Newfoundland A1B 3V6
Memorial University profile
Clinical Public Health Division
Assistant Professor
SGS Status
Associate Member
Appointment Status
Status Only

Research Interests

Biography (February 2016)
Catherine L. Mah, MD FRCPC PhD leads the Food Policy Lab, a multidisciplinary program of research in the policy and practice of public health, with a focus on health-promoting innovations in the food system. Her work integrates population health intervention research and policy action on environmental contexts for consumption. The mission of the Food Policy Lab is to establish the conditions for many sectors and disciplines to act as champions for promoting health, using food as a tool for dialogue, analysis, and engagement. Its aim is to learn from and scale the ingenuity of diverse food system stakeholders to create a supportive policy environment with integrated health, social, and economic priorities. Dr. Mah holds funding from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, Health Canada, and the Leslie Harris Centre of Regional Policy and Development. She is Assistant Professor of Health Policy at Memorial University and is appointed at the Dalla Lana School of Public Health at the University of Toronto and the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health. She is a former member of the Toronto Food Policy Council and a founding member of the St. John’s Food Policy Council.

Student supervision
I welcome student projects in the following areas:

  • Food policy and practice
  • Food environments and population-level nutrition interventions
  • Policy framing, ethics, values
  • Deliberative approaches and interpretive policy analysis

Education & Training History

PhD (Health Services Research-Health Policy), University of Toronto, 2009
FRCPC (Paediatrics), Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada, 2002
MD, University of Calgary, 1998

CIHR Fellowship in Public Health Policy, CIHR Strategic Training Program in Public Health Policy, Dalla Lana School of Public Health, University of Toronto, 2010-2011
Research and Planning Fellow, Toronto Public Health, 2010-2011
CADRE Postdoctoral Fellowship, School of Public Policy and Governance, University of Toronto, 2009-2011
Visiting Researcher, Global Centre of Excellence for Reconstruction of the Intimate and Public Spheres in 21st Century Asia, Kyoto University, 2009-2010
CIHR Fellowship, Department of Health Policy, Management, and Evaluation, University of Toronto, 2006-2008

Primary Teaching Responsibilities

I teach the following graduate courses in Community Health, at Memorial University: MED6288 – Policy and Decision Making and MED6725 – Public Health Leadership & Management. I also teach topics in community nutrition, health systems, evaluation, community engagement, population health interventions, and prevention elsewhere in the community health and MUN undergraduate medical curriculum.

Other courses
I developed HLTB16 Introduction to Public Health for University of Toronto Scarborough and taught it in Winter 2014. I previously served as Associate Course Director and methods tutor for DOC 211 Determinants of Community Health 2 (DOCH 2) and have taught topics in nutrition and population health in the U of T undergraduate medical curriculum. I have also contributed to the development of the current NFS 1210 Management of Community Food Systems in the MPH (Community Nutrition) program and taught it in Fall 2013.

Supervision and mentorship
I have served as a faculty mentor in the Strategic Training Program in Public Health Policy (DLSPH), supervise MPH practica, and am a thesis committee member for students in the PhD Collaborative Program in Global Health, PhD (Social and Behavioural Health Sciences), and MSc and PhD programs in the Department of Nutritional Sciences.

Professional Summary & Appointments

My primary appointment is in the Division of Community Health and Humanities at Memorial University. I am also Affiliate Research Scientist with the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health and Affiliated Faculty in the School of Public Policy and Governance.

Current Research Projects

FRESH-IT: Implementing a PHAC/Health Canada Local Government Toolkit in Smaller Jurisdictions to Develop Evidence-Informed Food Retail Environment Interventions
Funding: CIHR Open Operating Grant (Knowledge-to-Action)
Investigators: CL Mah (PI), L Minaker (co-Project Leader), B Cook (co-Project Leader), K Raine (Project Expert)
Duration: 2015-2017
Aim: To implement a capacity building toolkit in smaller municipalities in four provinces (AB, MB, ON, NL) to measure the community and consumer food environment and develop an evidence-informed, policy-ready local plan for a healthy retail food environment intervention.

Healthy Corner Stores NL
Funding: Health Canada
Investigators: CL Mah (PI),  K Jameson (Community partner), N Moody (Government partner)
Duration: 2015-2016
Aim: 1) An assessment of the community and consumer food environment in NL with a focus on measuring the rural retail food environment; 2) an impact evaluation of a pilot healthy corner store intervention in a rural community measuring community-level and household-level health and retail performance outcomes.

An Environmental Scan of City-Region Food Policy Levers for St. John’s, NL
Funding: Harris Centre Applied Research Fund
Investigators: CL Mah (PI), C Donovan (Co-investigator), K Jameson (Community partner)
Duration: 2014-2015
Aim: To identify existing and potential policy levers to create healthier and more enabling food environments for the city-region of St. John’s, NL, with a focus on opportunities for healthier food retail and food entrepreneurship.

Evaluating the Impact of Urban Healthier Food Retail Interventions
Funding: PHAC; Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-term Care Healthy Communities Fund
Investigators: B Cook (PI), CL Mah (co-PI), L Minaker (co-PI), M deGroh (co-PI)
Duration: 2013-2015
Aim: To examine the impact of two types of food retail interventions (a healthy corner store and a mobile produce vending bus) on diets, health status, food purchasing, and the food policy environment in Toronto

Food Insecurity and the Canadian Social Policy Environment – Defining the Policy Problem of Household Food Insecurity
A Project of the PROOF Program – Research to Identify Policy Options to Reduce Food Insecurity
Funding: CIHR Programmatic Grant in Health and Health Equity
Investigators: L McIntyre (Lead), CL Mah (Lead)
Duration: 2011-2016
Aim: To examine how food insecurity is defined and framed as a social policy problem in Canada

FACE – Food Advertising to Children: Ethics for Policy
Funding: CIHR Catalyst Grant
Investigators: CL Mah (PI), B Cook (Co-PI)
Duration: 2011-2014
Aim: To examine the moral reasoning behind policy debates on food and beverage marketing to children in Canada

Other research
I have been a co-investigator on a team studying the implementation of Health in All Policies (CIHR; PI: Shankardass), and have recently led other projects on policy context for menu labelling (Toronto Public Health), interdisciplinary approaches to food systems resilience (CIHR, Japan Foundation), and food education in Japan (CIHR).

Representative Publications

(selected recent)

Refereed Journal Articles

  1. CL Mah, B Cook, K Rideout, LM Minaker. Policy options for healthier retail food environments in city-regions. Accepted to Canadian Journal of Public Health, Special Supplement on Retail Food Environments in Canada, March 2016 (lead author).
  2. L McIntyre, PB Patterson, L Anderson, CL Mah. Household food insecurity in Canada: Problem definition and potential solutions in the public policy domain. Accepted to Canadian Public Policy, forthcoming March 2016 (senior responsible author).
  3. L Minaker, A Shuh, DL Olstad, R Engler-Stringer, JL Black, CL Mah. Retail food environments research in Canada: a scoping review. Accepted to Canadian Journal of Public Health, Special Supplement on Retail Food Environments in Canada, January 2016 (senior responsible author).
  4. L McIntyre, R Lukic, PB Patterson, LC Anderson, CL Mah. Legislation debated as responses to household food insecurity in Canada, 1995-2012. Accepted to Journal of Hunger and Environmental Nutrition, February 2016 (senior responsible author).
  5. PB Patterson, L McIntyre, L Anderson, CL Mah. Political rhetoric from Canada can inform healthy public policy argumentation. Accepted to Health Promotion International, February 2016 (senior responsible author).
  6. L McIntyre, D Tougas, K Rondeau, CL Mah. 2016. “In”-sights about food banks from a critical interpretive synthesis of the academic literature. Agriculture and Human Values, published Dec 2015 online ahead of print (senior responsible author).
  7. L Anderson, CL Mah, D Sellen. 2015 August. Eating well with Canada’s Food Guide? Authoritative knowledge about food and health among newcomer mothers. Appetite 91: 357-365 (co-author).
  8. B Lo, L Minaker, J Hrgetic, A Chan, CL Mah. 2016. Development and reliability testing of a Nutrition Environment Measures Survey for Grab-and-Go food outlets at an urban downtown university campus. Canadian Journal of Dietetic Practice and Research 17(1): 17-24 (senior responsible author).
  9. L McIntyre, P Patterson, L Anderson, CL Mah. Household food insecurity in Canada: Problem definition and potential solutions in the public policy domain. Accepted to Canadian Public Policy, October 2015 (senior responsible author).
  10. CL Mah, C Timmings. 2015. Equity in public health ethics: The case of menu labelling policy at the local level. Public Health Ethics 8(1): 85-89 (lead author).
  11. CL Mah, C Hamill, K Rondeau, L McIntyre. 2014. Using framing analysis to understand public health policy conflicts: the example of food insecurity in Canada. Archives of Public Health 72: 41 (lead author).
  12. CL Mah, E Taylor, S Hoang, B Cook. 2014. Using vignettes to tap into moral reasoning in public health policy: Practical advice and design principles from a study on food advertising to children. American Journal of Public Health 104(10): 1826-1832 (lead author).
  13. CL Mah, L Vanderlinden, D Mamatis, D Ansara, J Levy, L Swimmer. 2013. Ready for policy? Stakeholder attitudes toward menu labelling in Toronto, Canada. Canadian Journal of Public Health 104(3): e229-e234 (lead author).
  14. CL Mah, H Thang. 2013. Cultivating food connections: The Toronto Food Strategy and municipal deliberation on food. International Planning Studies 18(1): 96-110 (lead author).
  15. CL Mah. 2010. Shokuiku: Governing food and public health in contemporary Japan. Journal of Sociology 46(4): 1-20 (sole author).


  1. RB Deber with CL Mah (eds). 2014. Case Studies in Canadian Health Policy and Management. Toronto: University of Toronto Press.

Policy Reports

  1. National Collaborating Centre for Environmental Health (NCCEH). Policy Options for Healthier Food Environments in City-Regions: A Discussion Paper. Prepared by CL Mah, L Minaker, B Cook for NCCEH, accepted, forthcoming 2015.
  2. Ontario Society for Nutrition Professionals in Public Health (OSNPPH). Position Statement and Paper on Menu Labelling. Prepared by CL Mah, published May 2013.
  3. Toronto Public Health. 2013. What’s on the Menu? Making Key Nutrition Information Readily Available in Restaurants: Technical Report. Prepared by CL Mah, D Mamatis, L Swimmer, L Vanderlinden, A Birks, D Ansara, published May 2013.

Invited Talks

  1. Invited panel speaker, What Kind of a Metropolis Do We Want? Leslie Harris Centre of Regional and Policy Development, St. John’s, November 10, 2015 (Invited Plenary Panel Speaker, Local, forthcoming).
  2. Invited panel speaker w L Minaker, B Cook, Measuring the Food Environment in Canada. Canadian Food & Drink Summit 2015, Toronto, October 26, 2015 (Invited Plenary Panel Speaker, National, forthcoming).
  3. Invited workshop speaker with L Minaker, B Cook, Healthy Food Retail: Local public-private partnerships to improve availability of healthy food in retail settings. 4th Canadian Obesity Summit, Toronto, April 29, 2015 (Invited Workshop Speaker, National).
  4. Invited webinar, NL Regional Dietitians meeting, at NL Department of Seniors, Wellness, and Social Development. April 13, 2015 (Invited Webinar Speaker, Provincial).
  5. Invited webinar, Healthy Corner Store Initiatives, Sustain Ontario Food Access Peer Learning Circle. March 4, 2015 (Invited Webinar Speaker, Provincial).
  6. Invited plenary speaker, The Future is Local: How City-Regions are Leading the Way on Food, Health, and Environment. 11th Annual Alberta Institute of Agrologists Banff Conference, Health and Food—Is There a Future? April 1, 2015 (Invited Plenary Speaker, Provincial).
  7. Invited panel moderator with V Tarasuk, S Pegg, K Scharf. Food Banks: Part of the Solution or Part of the Problem? Food Secure Canada 8th November 15, 2014 (Invited Panel Moderator, National).
  8. Invited closing remarks, and invited panel member with L Baker, L Roblin, A Stewart, A Poirier, T Mackay, Food in All Policies: Making it Work in Ontario, Ontario Public Health Association/Nutrition Resource Centre 2014 Annual Conference, March 6, 2014 (Invited Plenary Speaker, Provincial).
  9. Invited webinar with V Tarasuk, Household Food Insecurity in Canada: An Update from the PROOF Research Program, Food Secure Canada, online January 16, 2014 (Invited Webinar Speaker, National).

Refereed Conference Presentations (as presenter/workshop facilitator)

  1. CL Mah, M Hefferton (workshop co-facilitators). Food tools for planners. Planning on the Edge: Atlantic Planners Institute annual conference 2015, St. John’s, October 5, 2015.
  2. L Minaker, B Cook, CL Mah (workshop co-facilitators). Assessing food environments: building local public health capacity through partnerships. Public Health 2015 (Canadian Public Health Association Annual Conference), Vancouver, May 27, 2015.
  3. CL Mah (presenter), with Brian Cook. Policy metaphors and the ethics of policy on food advertising to children. Public Health 2015, Vancouver, May 25 2015.
  4. CL Mah (presenter) with Brian Cook. Cultivating Food Connections: Lessons from the Toronto Food Strategy in creating collaborative and enabling food governance. Reclaiming Urban Food Flows panel, 9th International Conference in Interpretive Policy Analysis, Wageningen, Netherlands, July 5, 2014.
  5. CL Mah, L McIntyre (co-facilitators). Rapid simulation of the deliberative dialogue process: A participatory workshop based on differing approaches to addressing food insecurity. Workshop at Canadian Public Health Association Annual Conference, Toronto, May 28, 2014.
  6. CL Mah, B Cook (co-presenters) with S Hoang, E Taylor. Towards a broader understanding of citizenship in policy debate on food advertising to children. European Society for Food and Agricultural Ethics 2013 Congress, Uppsala, Sweden, September 13, 2013.
  7. CL Mah, L McIntyre (co-facilitators) with K Rondeau. Policy Framing Analysis: An Introduction to the Methodology Based on a Study of how Food Insecurity is Framed as a Policy Problem in Canada. Workshop at Canadian Public Health Association Annual Conference, Ottawa, June 11, 2013.
  8. CL Mah, S Hoang (co-facilitators) with B Cook, E Taylor. Exploring Ethical Reasoning for Public Health Policy Through Vignettes: A Workshop on Food Marketing to Children. Workshop at Canadian Public Health Association Annual Conference, Ottawa, June 12, 2013.