Healthy Active Living Cookbook

Last modified by James Kepler on 2021/04/30 15:04


Paediatric Hospitals have a leadership role to play in the promotion of healthy eating and physical activity for children, their families and staff members.

Currently, over twenty-six percent of Canadian youth are overweight or obese and at risk of developing health complications. As community leaders integrally involved with children’s health, it is vital that paediatric hospitals play a role in obesity prevention and health promotion.

In 2006 in partnership with the Canadian Association of Paediatric Health Centres (CAPHC) and the Canadian Paediatric Society (CPS), we surveyed healthy active living (HAL) policy and practice in all sixteen academic children’s hospitals in Canada. Survey data revealed that the majority of organizations do not adequately promote HAL for either patients or staff. We concluded that there is a critical need for a more comprehensive and systematic approach to address issues such as the lack of physical activity opportunities for patients and staff, and the common practice of fast food outlets and unhealthy food choices in many of our children’s hospitals.

In 2009, a modified HAL survey was again completed by the sixteen academic children’s hospitals in Canada: 

  • Health Promoting Committees were similar to the first survey at fifty-six percent. 
  • Although nonsmoking policy prevalence was unchanged, only partial adherence was reported by ninety-three percent of centres. 
  • Only nineteen percent of organizations had written nutrition policy. 
  • Most cafeterias had limited hours of operation. 
  • Sixty-two percent had fast food/coffee franchises. 
  • In eighty-one percent of centres, the vendor determined vending machine content. 
  • Thirty-eight percent increased the number of vending machines. 
  • None had physical activity promotion policies. 
  • Outdoor walking trails increased by twenty-five percent. 
  • Thirty eight percent of children’s playrooms offered Wii fit®. 
  • Thirty-one percent of centres had outpatient child life workers. 
  • None had incentives for staff physical activity other than discounted fitness club memberships.

Pan-Canadian Task Force

To lay the foundation for this work, we convened a multi-disciplinary, pan-Canadian task force consisting of experts on obesity prevention, policy implementation and evaluation, governance and hospital administration. With funding from the Canadian Institute for Health Research (CIHR), Stollery Children’s Hospital Foundation, Mazankowski Alberta Heart Institute and CAPHC, a workshop was held in Edmonton on April 27th, 2009.

Leading researchers shared evidence-based workplace HAL initiatives with task- force members. Through breakout sessions, all participants shared promising HAL programs and practices, and discussed other potential strategies that could be adopted in Children’s Hospitals across the country. The ideas generated by this national task force are captured in this booklet.

Working Together to Promote Practice Change

This document outlines several options, referred to as “Gold, Silver and Bronze levels” to begin to address the current challenges and subsequent risks shared by all Canadian Children’s hospitals. Many centres do not have Health Promotion Committees which could be an effective means to develop benchmarks for institutions, set guidelines for HAL policy development and create system and individual level strategies to address healthy nutrition and physical activity promotion. These committees could also develop evaluation tools to determine the efficacy of policies that are created.

Going forward, we hope to work with and engage all Children’s Hospitals who participated in the original surveys. We would also welcome other organizations in an active national campaign to pilot and implement selected strategies within and across organizations.

It is our intent to collaborate with Accreditation Canada and other national and provincial agencies to garner expertise and guidance in support of this work. As a next step, we are planning to disseminate this booklet and related references to our Children’s Hospital colleagues across Canada.

Please feel free to share this vision and document with your respective colleagues and partners. We welcome your feedback on this work and invite new colleagues to join us as part of our HAL Pan-Canadian Task Force.


To download a pdf version of the full document click the following links:


A special thank you to Kathryn Ambler (Hagedorn) who was instrumental in organizing the Pan- Canadian Task Force Workshop, and Natalie Chui, Gisele Forsey, Jeannine LeBlanc, and Garry Spence who contributed significantly to the creation of this booklet.

Created by Doug Maynard on 2011/02/07 15:03