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Physical activity promotion: Every health care professional has a role to play

Contents

I Introduction
II Active Kids, Healthy Kids
III Conclusion
IV References
V Resources

-- Submitted by the Canadian Paediatric Society

I Introduction

Childhood obesity is a serious public health problem in Canada, with as many as 26% of 2- to 17-year-olds overweight or obese. [1] Despite growing awareness about the importance of physical activity, many Canadian children and youth are not active enough for optimal growth and development.  And as children get older, they spend more and more time inactive.

Health professionals play an important role in helping children, youth and families establish and maintain healthy habits, especially during the early years of life.

II Active Kids, Healthy Kids

Active Kids, Healthy Kids is a new Canadian Paediatric Society (CPS) program to help to engage health professionals in promoting healthy active living. It incorporates the Canadian Physical Activity and Sedentary Behavior Guidelines for Children and Youth published by the Canadian Society for Exercise Physiology in 2012 which called for an overall increase in vigorous and moderate-intensity activities and activities that strengthen muscles and bones. Program development was guided by an advisory committee of health professionals from across Canada.

Early in the project, the CPS collaborated with the Healthy Active Living and Obesity Research Group (HALO) at the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario to examine the awareness and use of the Canadian Physical Activity and Sedentary Behaviour Guidelines among Canadian paediatricians . [2] Survey results demonstrated that very few were familiar with the guidelines, and many felt counseling to be ineffective because parents are not motivated to make behavior changes. These findings supported the need for strategies to increase awareness and use of the guidelines, and to reduce perceived barriers. Respondents indicated a need for tools and resources, providing a window of opportunity for introducing a new program. This research was used as the basis for developing program goals and objectives.

 “Health care professionals absolutely have to play a role in helping families incorporate healthy living into their daily activities,” said Dr. Claire LeBlanc, Chair of the Active Kids, Healthy Kids Project Advisory Committee. “Even if we think we don’t have enough time, if we get into the habit of asking one question about healthy lifestyles at every visit, it will make a difference.”

Physicians can:

  • Talk to families about the benefits and importance of physical activity for every age group: babies, preschoolers, school-age children and adolescents.
  • Ask about physical activity and sedentary behavior, and help families make changes to their daily routines.
  • Prescribe physical activity or a reduction in screen time.
  • Promote healthy eating, good sleep hygiene and mental wellness.
  • Share resources and materials with families to help them get and stay active.

Active Kids, Healthy Kids has a number of tools to help:

  • A guide for physicians with strategies on how to implement the Canadian guidelines in the clinical setting, ideas for parents and solutions to common barriers.
  • A prescription for healthy active kids to set specific goals with children and adolescents and give ideas for things to do.
  • A series of posters promoting physical activity for every age for use in health care or community settings.
  • Videos for physicians by physicians at reinforcing the importance of asking about physical activity at every health visit including tangible ideas on how to build on success. Videos can be viewed by visiting http://www.youtube.com/CanPaedSociety
  • Videos for parents on how to be a good role model for their children and how to reduce sedentary time.   
  • A training program of four age-specific modules to help educate paediatric residents and other health professionals on the importance of healthy eating, good sleep hygiene, reducing sedentary behaviours, increasing physical activity and the promotion of mental wellness in all age groups.
  • Resources to share with parents on http://www.caringforkids.cps.ca including a monthly email with tips and reminders for incorporating physical activity into their daily lives and ideas for ways to be more physical active in each age group.

III Conclusion

The CPS is pleased to have had the support of the Canadian Academy of Sport and Exercise Medicine and College of Family Physicians in the development of this project.

Funding for Active Kids, Healthy Kids was provided by the Public Health Agency of Canada. For complete program information, and access to all the tools listed above visit http://www.cps.ca/active-kids. The Canadian Physical Activity Guidelines and Sedentary Behavior Guidelines for Children and Youth are available at http://www.csep.ca.

IV References

1. Canadian Paediatric Society, Healthy Active Living and Sports Medicine Committee (Principal authors: S. Lipnowski and CMA LeBlanc, Principal authors). Healthy active living: Physical activity guidelines for children and adolescents. Paediatr Child Health 2012;17(4):209-10
2. Carson V, LeBlanc CMA, Moreau, E, Tremblay MA. Paediatricians’ awareness of, agreement with and use of the new Canadian Physical Activity and Sedentary Behaviour Guidelines for children and youth 0 to 17 years of age. Paediatr Child Health 2013;18(10);538-42.

V Resources

Canadian Paediatric Society including information on Active Kids, Healthy Kids is online at http://www.cps.ca/.

Videos for physicians by physicians at reinforcing the importance of asking about physical activity at every health visit including tangible ideas on how to build on success can be viewed by visiting http://www.youtube.com/CanPaedSociety.

Healthy Active Living and Obesity Research Group (HALO) is a multidisciplinary centre of excellence in healthy active living and obesity research for children and youth. Find them online at http://www.haloresearch.ca/.

The Canadian Physical Activity Guidelines and Sedentary Behavior Guidelines for Children and Youth published by the Canadian Society for Exercise Physiology are available at http://www.csep.ca/english/view.asp?x=804