Ontario's Healthy Kids Strategy
In May 2012, the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care assembled a group of experts to serve on its Healthy Kids Panel and provide advice on how to achieve the government's goal of reducing childhood obesity.
In response to the panel's recommendations, the government created Ontario's Healthy Kids Strategy focused on three priorities:
- Healthy Start - supporting healthy pregnancy and early years to build the foundation for healthy childhood and beyond.
- Healthy Food - initiatives to promote healthy eating, achieving healthy weights and healthy childhood development.
- Healthy Active Communities - building healthy environments for kids in their communities.
To help babies get the best start in life, Ontario is helping families by:
- Providing 24 hour telephone access to expert support for mothers who are breastfeeding.
- Supporting Ontario's hospitals and community health care organizations with training and resources to help them achieve the World Health Organization's Baby-Friendly Initiative designation and adopt clinical best practices in infant feeding.
- Targeted support for mothers in population groups that have lower rates of breastfeeding, such as women having their first baby, Aboriginal women and women who plan to return to work within six months, among others.
To help parents and their children make healthier food choices, Ontario intends to introduce legislation that would require large chain restaurants to include calories and potentially other nutritional information on their menus.
A vast majority of Ontarians (95 per cent) support requiring fast food restaurants list nutritional information on their menus (Ipsos Reid, 2011).
The ministry has also consulted with industry and health sector leaders on how to address the marketing of unhealthy food and beverages aimed at kids.
These initiatives would build on steps the government has already taken, including new investments in Ontario's Student Nutrition Program to create more than 200 new breakfast and morning meal programs for approximately 33,000 kids in higher-needs communities, including First Nations communities.
Healthy Active Communities
Ontario is focusing on building healthier environments for children and youth to grow up in.
They include new measures to protect kids from the harmful effects of smoking, making it harder for youth to obtain tobacco products, making tobacco products less tempting and new limits on smoking in public places.
Ontario is also offering communities resources to help children eat better and get more active through the Healthy Kids Community Challenge.
The challenge is providing selected communities with up to $1.5 million in funding, training and other resources over four years to implement community programs and activities. Local programs will focus on healthy eating, physical activity and appropriate sleep for children and youth.