2010/11 Canadian Initiatives to Promote Healthy Active LivingTuesday, June 19, 2012
In a paper just published in the Canadian Journal of Public Health, Mark Tremblay, Director of the University of Ottawa’s Healthy Active Living and Obesity Research Group at the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario Research Institute, and one of Canada’s leading advocates for physical activity, reviews some of the major Canadian initiative to promote health active living.
These 15 initiatives include:
- a Federal-Provincial-Territorial framework for action to promote healthy weights;
- implementation of a nutrition labeling initiative;
- launch of the CBC “Live Right Now” campaign;
- the Public Health Agency of Canada’s innovation strategy funding related to obesity;
- publication of the Canadian Health Measures Survey physical activity findings;
- release of new Canadian physical activity and sedentary behaviour guidelines;
- launch of ParticipACTION’s “Think Again” campaign;
- workshop on building trust to address the epidemic of obesity;
- start of the Canadian Pediatric Weight Management Registry;
- initiation of “Our Health Our Future: A National Dialogue on Healthy Weights”;
- release of the Active Healthy Kids Canada Report Card on Physical Activity for Children and Youth;
- National Obesity Summit;
- Nature Play Day and Sports Day in Canada;
- development of the Canadian Assessment of Physical Literacy; and
- the creation of Active Canada 20/20 – A National Physical Activity Plan.
As Tremblay points out,
“The diversity and intensity of activity surrounding the childhood obesity and inactivity “epidemic” in Canada is encouraging”
But he also notes that,
“…it will be important to assess the impact and implementation of the programs listed in this brief review while also holding various sectors and agencies accountable for the implementation of existing and future recommendations for action.”
While all of these efforts are commendable and, if they serve to sustainably increase activity levels of Canadians, will no doubt have their benefits, critics may point out that almost nothing in these activities are specific to addressing obesity – indeed, framing any of these initiatives (perhaps with the exception of the paediatric weight management registry and the National Obesity Summit) as being specifically tailored to target obesity prevention or management does little more than continue to frame obesity as a simple ‘lifestyle’ matter of eating less and moving more.
Given the rather sobering long-term impact of even individually tailored one-on-one diet and physical activity interventions, it is hard to see how the even less intense, population based approaches to improving diet and physical activity will pan out.
As I have noted before – appeals to simply Eat-Less-and-Move-More (ELMM) may well prove as ineffective in population interventions as it has in individuals.
This is not to say that, if only ALL Canadians would eat better and get more active, their health will benefit – will it also do much to reduce obesity? Only time will tell.