Aglukkaq Highlights Need For Culturally Appropriate Interventions

Yesterday’s Summit on Healthy Weights brought together a wide range of stakeholders from all sectors to discuss community based responses towards improving health and wellness in Canada’s children and youth.

In the discussion, I was particularly pleased to hear the Honourable Minister Leona Aglukkaq point out the importance of ensuring that community based interventions were culturally appropriate and community driven with a focus on improving health and wellness rather than simply reducing weights.

A particular challenge exists in Canada’s North, where communities are isolated with less availability of affordable healthy foods. Lifestyle transition has significantly reduced hunting and gathering of traditional foods, which provided these populations with nutritious and delicious diet.

As Gita Sharma, Endowed Chair in Aboriginal Health at the University of Alberta, a participant at this meeting pointed out,

“It is essential to work with Aboriginal communities to have community driven multi-institutional nutrition and physical activity intervention programs, that are evidence-based and evaluated. These programs must also provide training and capacity building for employment at the local level, so communities can implement these programs and ensure sustainability.”

Gita Sharma emphasized the benefits of partnerships with the food retail based companies, as people make decisions about food choices at the point of purchase, making this the natural target for community based nutrition interventions. In addition, findings from such research must be distributed to the communities, stakeholders, and to the endusers to guide policy.

Given the importance of culturally appropriate community and population-specific interventions, the Canadian Obesity Network will dedicate a full day to this issue at the 3rd National Obesity Summit, in Vancouver next year.

Edmonton, Alberta