News release

Province Releases Consultation Report on Childhood Obesity

The province is closer to a plan to address childhood obesity after hearing from more than 1,100 people, groups and organizations about how to make it easier to grow up healthy in Nova Scotia.

Input came from dialogues, written submissions and an online survey summarized in the report What We Heard: Survey and Consultation Findings for a Childhood Obesity Prevention Strategy.

"We all know that poor diet and physical inactivity are putting children, youth and families at risk for preventable health conditions and diseases," said Maureen MacDonald, Minister of Health and Wellness. "It's a complex societal problem, so it will take many steps and a collective movement to change how we live. An early step was asking the public, our partners and experts what we can do. I thank everyone who took part."

Consultations included representatives from health and community-based organizations, sport and recreation, education, academia, government, business and industry, and people representing Aboriginal, African Canadian and Acadian communities and organizations as well as families and youth.

Participants raised common themes, such as barriers to, and lack of, opportunities for healthy eating and physical activity as well as rushed and sedentary lives because of desk jobs, technology and community design.

"Nova Scotians have told us that we need to do more," Ms. MacDonald said. "The 2012 budget commits more than $2 million in additional funding to a government-wide plan for a healthier Nova Scotia. We are looking at high-priority actions that we can afford to do this year. And we're looking at what we can do over the long term to reshape the places where we live, work and play."

The report identifies barriers and factors contributing to increasing obesity rates in children, and gives examples of work underway to support physical activity and healthy eating.

"It's a matter of the right medicine in the wrong dose," said Dr. Rob Strang, the province's chief public health officer. "We need more policies like our Nova Scotia School Food Nutrition Policy and our regulations and standards that help child-care centres serve healthy foods.

"We need more initiatives such as the Department of Education's Community Use of Schools fund. We need to celebrate, elevate and duplicate the amazing work of people across the province to make Nova Scotia a healthier place."

In Nova Scotia, one-in-three youth, age 2 to 17, are overweight or obese and many more young people are at risk for a lifetime of health issues because of unhealthy lifestyles.

In addition to the consultations, staff reviewed literature, best practices and activities across government, advice from task teams and a scientific advisory panel.

To read What We Heard, go to www.gov.ns.ca/growinguphealthy .

The province will launch a plan for a healthier Nova Scotia this spring.

FOR BROADCAST USE:

The province is closer to a plan to address childhood obesity after hearing from more than 11-hundred people, groups and organizations about how to make it easier to grow up healthy in Nova Scotia.

Health and Wellness Minister Maureen MacDonald says poor diet and physical inactivity are putting children, youth and families at risk for preventable health conditions and diseases.

She says it is a complex societal problem that will take many steps and a collective movement to change how we live. An early step was asking the public, partners and experts what can be done.

The report What We Heard is available on the Department of Health and Wellness website. The province will launch a plan for a healthier Nova Scotia this spring.

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Media Contact:

Annabel Bruce
Health and Wellness 902-240-4640 E-mail: