The Childhood Obesity Foundation was founded in 2004 by a pediatrician and lawyer in British Columbia who wanted to reduce the prevalence of childhood obesity in Canada. They gathered together Canadian experts in the field of childhood healthy weights, including physicians and researchers, and together they formed the Childhood Obesity Foundation (COF).
The COF Board of Directors then worked with the British Columbia Ministry of Health and the Provincial Health Services Authority to hold a Childhood Obesity Forum in March 2005. BC’s Premier opened the forum. The two-day forum included 110 individuals from all walks of life in including business, media, schools, health authorities, parks and recreation. Everyone came together to hear about the scope of the childhood unhealthy weights problem and come up with solutions.
In 2006 the Childhood Obesity Foundation was granted charitable status. The BC Ministry of Health kindly provided funding to get the COF’s work started. Since then the COF has been working on a variety of initiatives stemming from the 2005 forum.
Living Green and Healthy for Teens (LiGHT)
LiGHT, a mobile program for youth and their families, is a four-year project funded by the Public Health Agency of Canada with matched funding from Ayogo Health Inc., Merck Canada and Heart and Stroke. The mobile app will engage youth and their families with interactive, gamified content that helps them build social connections, and includes live and personalized virtual coaching.
Childhood Healthy Weights Intervention Initiative
We are pleased to share this report on our progress with the CHWII. Click here for Our Journey, March 2014.
The Childhood Obesity Foundation is extremely proud to be working in partnership with the BC Ministry of Health, The Provincial Health Services Authority, BCRPA, YMCA of Greater Vancouver, health authorities, HealthlinkBC and Physical Activity Line on the Childhood Healthy Weights Intervention Initiative (CHWII).
The province-wide CHWII is intended to develop, implement and evaluate a family-focused childhood healthy weights intervention program. It provides support for families with children who are departing from a healthy weight trajectory. The Initiative is based on the success of ShapedownBC (for children with physical, psycho-social or medical issues), Mind, Exercise, Nutrition, Do It! (MEND) (for children with no medical limitations to participation), and telehealth (for families who cannot access an in-person program, or who need additional support). These free services help children and their families to increase healthy eating and physical activity behaviours that promote healthy weights.
- Expanding ShapedownBC, offered by Provincial Health Services Authority at BC Children’s Hospital in Vancouver since 2006, to all BC health authorities over the next two years. This program provides free multi-disciplinary, family-based support for children aged 6-17 years.
- Mind, Exercise, Nutrition, Do It! (MEND) is a recreation centre based program that provides free healthy lifestyle learning and activity sessions for children aged 5-7 and 7-13. To learn more about MEND, click here.
- Providing enhanced telehealth supports for families through Dietitian Services at Healthlink BC’s 8-1-1 service and the Physical Activity Line’s toll-free service. For more information on HealthLinkBC and Physical Activity Line services visit www.healthlinkbc.ca and www.physicaactivityline.com
Please click here to read the CHWII Press Release (April 5, 2013).
Please click here to read the Press Release regarding MEND (November 8, 2013)
Since May 2012, the Childhood Obesity Foundation has been working closely with our partners to plan, implement and evaluate MEND and ShapedownBC programs. The first new programs were launched in the Spring of 2013. More sites were added in the Fall. MEND has been offered in 26 sites around BC. Shapedown BC is underway in four new sites, as well as the existing site at BC Children’s Hospital. Richmond offers the Shapedown BC program adapted for the ethnic Chinese population. All programs are accepting physician referrals (ShapedownBC) and registrations (MEND).
MEND and ShapedownBC both focus on families as the core of the change strategy and emphasize healthy eating and physical activity to address overweight and obesity. MEND supports families with children who are just departing from the healthy weight trajectory (BMI >85th percentile for age) and is accessed by self-referral. ShapedownBC serves families with children who have significantly departed from the healthy weight trajectory (BMI > 97th percentile for age) or who have BMI > 85th percentile for age and co-morbidities or other complex medical or psycho-social issues. Comprehensive, multidisciplinary clinical support is unique to the ShapedownBC intervention, and a medical referral is required. Health professionals may be interested in the MEND and ShapedownBC Referral Guidelines for Healthcare Professionals in Demonstration Project Communities at this link..
The third component of the CHWII provides enhanced telehealth options for support through Dietitian Services at Healthlink BC and the Physical Activity Line. The Healthy Eating and Activity Program for Kids (HEAP-K) involves integrating and expanding these services to offer coordinated an ongoing nutrition and physical activity counselling, in partnership with mental health specialists and family physicians.
During the course of this Initiative, many children and families will have access, for the first time, to free programs that have shown success in supporting children and their families in increasing healthy eating and physical activity behaviours that promote healthy weights. In addition to the direct benefit to children and families who receive services, the results of a comprehensive evaluation will inform the Childhood Obesity Foundation’s development of options to sustain these types of programs into the future.
The information on our website about the CHWII and these programs will be updated from time to time to keep you informed of our progress.
Collaborative Action on Childhood Obesity, Phases 1 and 2
CACO activities have been carried out in two phases:
Phase 1 (CACO1) – 2009 to 2012
CACO1 focused on reducing the consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages and screen time by Canadian youth and providing a viable, local and culturally relevant alternative food management model in Aboriginal communities.
This initiative was funded by the Canadian Partnership Against Cancer as part of their ‘Coalitions Linking Action and Science with Prevention’ (CLASP) Program. The CACO coalition’s goal is to contribute to the reversal in the escalating trend in child and youth obesity by reducing the consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages and screen-time by Canadian youth and by providing a viable, local and culturally relevant alternative food management model in Aboriginal communities.
The Childhood Obesity Foundation is helping to achieve these goals by implementing educational modules in the schools (Screen Smart and Sip Smart). We also work with governments at the federal, provincial and territorial level to examine the potential role of taxation in combating the obesity epidemic and to analyze the utility of restricting the marketing of unhealthy food and beverages to children.
Phase 2 (CACO2) – 2012 to 2014
CACO2 focused on expanding its reach and deepening its impact on childhood obesity and chronic disease through leveraging resources, partnerships, and/or processes developed during CACO1.
CACO2 aimed to:
- increase the implementation of evidence-based health promotion and literacy approaches that predispose, enable and reinforce healthy food, beverage, screen-time and physical activity choices by children in settings where they spend their time.
- create supportive environments by enhancing capacity and supporting health promoting policy development locally, in community recreation.
As a result, CACO2 has mobilized local partnerships and contextualized the resources to increase the implementation of the Healthy Food and Beverage Initiative in community recreation facilities across the Yukon Territory, Northwest Territory, Quebec, and BC.
The Healthy Food and Beverage Sales Initiative
The Healthy Food and Beverage Sales (HFBS) Initiative aims to increase the provision of healthy foods and beverages and reduce unhealthy eating options in community recreation facilities. It is an evidence-based, capacity building initiative that encourages individuals to make healthy eating choices when purchasing foods or beverages where they live, work, learn and play. The healthy food and beverage initiative also encourages collaboration between industry and recreation facilities to provide and promote a wider range of healthy eating choices.
HFBS has been active and evolving in British Columbia since 2006. Results from a provincial needs assessment showed that recreation facilities across B.C. had food environments that did not encourage healthy eating and tended to promote obesity. Results also showed that recreation stakeholders were interested in improving this situation. The Childhood Obesity Foundation and the BC provincial government, a Municipal Recreation Food Environment Action Toolkit (MRFEAT) was piloted to mobilize and support action to within communities.
Between 2008 and 2010, 48 local governments in BC, including 12 First Nations, participated in HFBS. These communities addressed food environments in 142 community-funded facilities, including pools, ice arena, multiplexes, fitness facilities, outdoor sporting facilities, community centres, band halls and other comparable facilities. This work was co-led by the BC Recreation and Parks Association and the Union of BC Municipalities.
Following the BCHLA initiatives, The Childhood Obesity Foundation came together with stakeholders across Canada to broaden the reach of this evidence-based initiative. The dissemination of the initiative across Canada was initiated by the Collaborative Action on Childhood Obesity (CACO) Phases 1 and 2; a partnership of national, provincial, and territorial organizations whose goal is to contribute to reversing the escalating trend in child and youth obesity in Canada.
Healthy Beginning for Preschoolers 2-5
The goal of Healthy Beginnings for Preschoolers 2-5 is to build resilient Canadians starting in the early years by targeting the places where children spend their days. Healthy Beginnings for Preschoolers was funded as a part of the CACO 2 initiative.
In Healthy Beginnings, we are addressing; vegetable and fruit consumption, sugar sweetened beverage consumption, physical inactivity, and screen time in the two to five year age group. This evidence-based, capacity building initiative encourages early learning practitioners and families to make healthy eating and physical activity choices. We have done this by improving the resources available to early learning practitioners in preschools, licensed childcare centres, family day homes and daycares by reaching out to parents and families with guidelines and resources to support healthy behaviours. We provide training and support for early learning practitioners that enables them to impact the environments that predispose, enable and reinforce healthy behaviours.
The Healthy Beginnings 2-5 program targets the settings where children live, learn and play. We are providing early childhood practitioners with tools to implement positive health-related programming within the care setting that include games, recipes, crafts and literacy opportunities. To find out more, please click here.
The Stop Marketing to Kids Coalition
The Stop Marketing to Kids (Stop M2K) Coalition was founded by the Heart and Stroke Foundation in collaboration with the Childhood Obesity Foundation in 2014. The Stop M2K Coalition is made up of eleven non-governmental organizations with written endorsement from dozens of additional organizations and individuals.
We envision a Canada where children and parents make nutritious food choices in an environment free of influence from food and beverage marketing to children.
In 2014, nationally-recognized health opinion leaders, health professional and researchers from across Canada came together to develop a consensus position on a set of definitions, scope and principles meant to guide “Marketing to Kids” (M2K) policy-making in Canada. Our Policy Recommendation is as follows:
Restrict the commercial marketing of all food and beverages to children and youth age 16 years and younger. Restrictions would include all forms of marketing with the exception of non-commercial marketing for public education. In addition, the regulations should fulfill the nine Ottawa Principles.
To find out more, please visit the Stop Marketing to Kids website by clicking here.