2010/11 Canadian Initiatives to Promote Healthy Active Living

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:

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.

Ottawa, Ontario