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, which seeks to look at the whole child through healthy child and youth development.
The strategy has four key principles:
- Focus on healthy kids: Strategies that target risk factors for unhealthy weights - including improving nutrition and physical activity - will benefit all children.
- Focus on positive health messages.
- Recognize that healthy kids live in healthy families, schools and communities: Strategies will focus not just on children but on parents and the broader community.
- Support health equity: Support population level interventions and interventions tailored to reach vulnerable populations most at risk.
The Healthy Kids Strategy is focused on three pillars:
- 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.
Ontario has taken action to implement recommendations from the Healthy Kids Panel for each pillar of the strategy:
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.
Ontario is supporting Ontario's hospitals and community health care organizations with training, tools, guidance and resources to help them achieve the World Health Organization's Baby-Friendly Initiative designation and adopt clinical best practices in infant feeding.
Ontario is also developing new supports 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.
Work is also underway to develop consistent pre-natal education content to promote healthy living and healthy weights in pregnant women.
Ontario is introducing legislation to make it easier for families to make informed and healthier food choices. The Making Healthier Choices Act, if passed, would make Ontario the first province to require food service premises to post calories on menus.
The ministry has also consulted with industry and health sector leaders on how to restrict the marketing of unhealthy food and beverages aimed at kids to inform next steps.
The government increased support for 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 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 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.