Supportive Environments, Not Obesity, New Focus for a Healthier Peel
BRAMPTON, ON. (Oct. 19, 2012) – A new report from Peel Public Health calls for a fundamental shift away from obesity and weight to a proactive approach that will instead focus on creating environments that will help make the healthy choice the easy choice. Creating Supportive Environments for Healthy Living in Peel was released Friday at the Healthy Peel by Design Symposium in Mississauga where officials from New York City shared their successes that have resulted in a healthier city. Like New York, Peel is shifting its focus to the underlying issues that contribute to overall health rather than focus on obesity prevention and healthy weights.
“For the past few decades, individuals’ decisions have been undermined by an environment where healthy choices are unavailable or difficult to make,” says Dr. David Mowat, Medical Officer of Health for the Region of Peel. “The most promising approach in controlling and preventing obesity is to invest in policies and programs that create supportive environments for individuals to make choices that support healthy eating and active living.”
The most fundamental shift for Peel Public Health is its change in overall focus from achieving healthy weights to addressing the underlying factors that contribute to overall health. Gone is the approach that encourages individuals to simply make healthier choices in the food they eat and the activities they choose. In its place is a focus on eating for pure enjoyment and moving in every part of the day, in an environment that makes it easy to do both.
“Eat and move – it’s profoundly simple,” says Gayle Bursey, Director of Chronic Disease and Injury Prevention, and Supportive Environments project lead for Peel Public Health. “It’s time to eat and move for the enjoyment of it, without solely focusing on weight, and to do it regularly, in an environment that actively supports it.”
Peel Public Health’s vision for creating supportive environments will focus on policy change, health inclusion and diversity, and social marketing, and be based on the best available evidence and evaluation. Like New York, Peel’s vision includes improving the food environment, making spaces more comfortable for physical activity and active transportation, and promoting building design that encourages physical activity. Peel will focus on four priority settings: pre-school, schools, workplaces and the built environment.
“Where we live, learn and work affects our health,” said Regional Councilor Elaine Moore, Co-Chair of the Health Services Committee. “Right now, those places can make it far too easy for people to make unhealthy choices. The Region of Peel is committed to building a future where our communities not only encourage healthy, active behaviours, but also make those decisions the easy ones.”
Childhood and adult obesity, which increases the risk of type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease and some cancers, has been steadily increasing in Canada over the last 20-plus years. The prevalence of diabetes in Peel is already high and with current obesity trends, it is projected that one in six Peel residents will be diagnosed with diabetes by 2025.
“Trends in obesity represent a major threat to the health of current and future generations of Peel residents,” continues Dr. Mowat. “It is time to change our approach.”
For more information on Peel Public Health’s new approach to creating supportive environments for healthy living, call 905-799-7700 or visit peelregion.ca/health/reports. The Regional Municipality of Peel was incorporated in 1974 on the principle that certain community and infrastructure services are most cost-effectively administered over a larger geographic area. The Region of Peel serves more than one million residents in the cities of Mississauga and Brampton and the town of Caledon.