September 28, 2007

By Rosanne Prinsen, MSc, Alberta Centre for Active Living


The ecology of childhood overweight: A 12-year longitudinal analysis

O'Brien M., Nader P.R., Houts R.M., Bradley R., Friedman S.L., Belsky J., Susman E. (2007). The ecology of childhood overweight: A 12-year longitudinal analysis. Int J Obes (Lond), 31(9),1469-1478.

Objective: To investigate ecological correlates of the development of overweight in a multisite study sample of children followed from age 2 to 12.

Conclusion: The results support the idea that childhood overweight is determined by many factors.

The one potentially important and changeable factor identified as a target for intervention centres on how children spend their time, especially their after-school time. Children who are more physically active and spend less time watching TV after school are less likely to become overweight by age 12.

Go healthy challenge

The Go Healthy Challenge is an on-air, online and community-based movement that empowers kids to take the lead in making their lives, schools and communities healthier.

The goal of the Go Healthy Challenge is to encourage at least 2 million kids to take the Go Healthy Pledge to eat better and exercise more.

School walking routes pilot project (Transport Canada)

Greenest City is expanding its School Walking Routes project (part of the Active & Safe Routes to School (ASRTS) project) from Toronto into three additional cities in Ontario.

The School Walking Routes pilot project is directly linked to the longer term sustainability of active travel to school and the Walking School Bus and will likely increase participation in ASRTS programs


Big sky: New horizons for systematic reviews in health care

The sixth Canadian Cochrane Symposium will bring together health policy decision-makers, health researchers, practitioners and consumers to learn about the latest research on creating, presenting, disseminating and using evidence.

The Symposium will be held on March 6 to 8, 2008, in Edmonton.

You will be able to submit a proposed presentation between Oct. 1 and Nov 30, 2007.


Facts and figures on obesity (USA)

This fact sheet discusses how obesity related health-care costs are soaring, how obese and overweight kids are at risk for serious health problems and a lesser quality of life. The fact sheet also discusses nutrition, eating habits and physical activity.


2007 benchmarking report: Bicycling and walking in the U.S.

Besides linking cycling, walking and public health, the report highlights the challenges the U.S. faces in increasing bicycling and walking.

Albertans urged to eat smart, move more

A new public awareness campaign called Create a Movement has been launched to encourage Albertans to take aggressive action to lead healthier lives.

"It’s time to wake up. Get off our couches, smell the lettuce, eat our vegetables and give our health the respect it deserves. A healthy future is an individual choice." This is an Alberta government website:

Everybody stretch: A physical activity workbook for people with various levels of multiple sclerosis

This workbook focuses on flexibility, range of motion and some mild muscular strength and endurance exercises.

As you go through these activities, you will learn about the importance of exercise for people with MS. The content of this activity book is also adaptable to other physical disabilities.

ParticipACTION: New website

ParticipAction is relaunching in October. To visit the archived site, go to


Smart growth: Building better communities

Editor’s note: An interesting website from National Association of Realtors. Be sure to look at the "On common ground" newsletter and the resource centre section. I found a lot of good information in the Community Design section.


What older women want: New website

What do older women rank as their top unmet health care needs? If health-care professionals and community organizations are made aware of these needs, how can they change practices to better meet them? What kinds of tools will be needed, and where will they come from? This site is both for professionals and the general public.

September 21, 2007

By Rosanne Prinsen, MSc, Alberta Centre for Active Living


CAAWS releases active & free resource book

CAAWS is pleased to publish Active & Free: Young Women, Physical Activity and Tobacco, a practical tool to support your work in encouraging a healthy lifestyle for young women by keeping them physically active and tobacco-free for life.

This updated resource booklet is designed for people who care about young women's health: teachers, recreation leaders, parents, coaches, and health promoters.

We hope Active & Free will assist you in your efforts to keep young girls tobacco-free, and to encourage them to adopt a healthy, active lifestyle.

Healthy schools program framework (USA)

The Healthy Schools Program has developed recognition criteria to help schools identify concrete actions they can take to establish a healthier school environment and to recognize and reward schools that have met the criteria.

We believe that students and staff deserve a healthy school environment that spans the classroom, cafeteria, hallways and playing fields.

Thus, the criteria address the entire school picture and identify program and policy actions for the following arenas:

  • Systems and policy

  • School meals

  • Competitive foods

  • Health education

  • Physical education

  • Physical activity opportunities

  • After-school programs

  • Staff wellness programs

A systematic review of interventions to prevent childhood obesity and overweight

This review identifies some key characteristics of physical activity programs for young people that had not been discovered in previous reviews, which is likely to be due to the methods that were used, rather than a change in the available research evidence.

It gives policy makers and practitioners clear guidance in effective strategies to increase physical activity levels in children and points to the need for reviews of this kind to be carried out focusing on adult and other populations.


Active living research conference 2008

The fifth Active Living Research Conference will be held April 9 to 12, 2008, in Washington, D.C. The theme for next year's conference is Connecting Active Living Research to Policy Solutions. Conference registration will begin in October.

Adapting evidence-based strategies to increase physical activity among African Americans, Hispanics, Hmong, and Native Hawaiians: A social marketing approach

Van Duyn M.A.S., McCrae T., Wingrove B.K., Henderson K.M., Boyd J.K., Kagawa-Singer M., et al. (2007). Adapting evidence-based strategies to increase physical activity among African Americans, Hispanics, Hmong, and Native Hawaiians: A social marketing approach. Prev Chronic Dis, 4(4).

Results indicate that evidence-based strategies to increase physical activity need to be adapted for cultural relevance for each racial or ethnic group.

Our research shows that members of four underserved populations are likely to respond to strategies that increase social support for physical activity and improve access to venues where they can be physically active.

Further research is needed to test how to implement such strategies in ways that are embraced by community members.

Election platform 2007

Outlines the issues and questions to ask election candidates in four areas:

  • Environment

  • Active, Healthy Communities

  • Halting the Obesity Epidemic

  • Community Safety and Youth

(Editor’s note: This may be a primer for the Ontario Provincial election, but all municipalities across Alberta are going to the polls in October too. There are some good ideas/pointers here.)

Use of local area facilities for involvement in physical activity in Canada

These findings highlight how gender and age differences need to be taken into account when implementing successful environmental and policy interventions to increase population levels of physical activity.

As the study was cross-sectional and only looked at a snapshot at one timeframe, the results could have been attributed to where physically active people chose to live, compared to less active people.

Nevertheless, this study adds an important contribution to our understanding of physical activity patterns.

Using census data for health research

This website launched by UBC researchers is designed to help health services researchers understand the enormous potential (and some of the potential challenges) of integrating census data into their work.

Using Census Data for Health Research (launched by the UBC Centre for Health Services and Policy Research and timed to coincide with the release of a fresh wave of 2006 Census data) is a gateway and FAQ that targets health services researchers, health system administrators and managers, and students.

The resource looks at sources of Canadian census data, how health system and census geographies compare, linking and combining data, and points to resources and examples of research using census data.

Using the RE-AIM framework to evaluate a physical activity intervention in churches

Bopp M., Wilcox S., Laken M., Hooker S.P., Saunders R., Parra-Medina D., et al. (2007). Using the RE-AIM framework to evaluate a physical activity intervention in churches. Prev Chronic Dis, 4(4).

Health-e-AME was a three-year intervention designed to promote physical activity at African Methodist Episcopal churches across South Carolina.

It is based on a community-participation model designed to disseminate interventions through trained volunteer health directors.

Our use of the RE-AIM framework to evaluate this intervention serves as a model for a comprehensive evaluation of the health effects of community programs to promote health.


Assessing the association of walking with health services use and costs among socioeconomically disadvantaged older adults

Perkins, A. J., & Clark, D. O. (2001). Assessing the association of walking with health services use and costs among socioeconomically disadvantaged older adults. Prev Med. 32(6), 492-501.

BACKGROUND: The costs of physical inactivity are beginning to be recognized. Research to pinpoint these costs will provide needed information for researchers and policy-makers to develop cost-effective physical activity promotion programs.

We present the association of walking with health services use and costs within a sample of 695 older, urban primary care patients.

METHODS: A survey provided most data, but utilization and cost data were obtained from a medical records system.

Multivariate models were developed to assess the association of walking with health services use and costs, adjusting for sociodemographic characteristics, chronic disease, health status and previous utilization.

RESULTS: Thirty-eight percent of respondents reported walking 0 minutes per week, 49% walked 1 to 119 minutes, and 13% walked 120 minutes or more.

In the multivariate analyses, a report of walking 120 or more minutes was associated with a lower risk of emergency room visit and hospital stay in the subsequent year. No association was found between walking and primary care visits and total cost.

CONCLUSION: These analyses suggest an association of walking 120 minutes or more with decreased emergency room visits (OR = 0.5, P = 0.046) and hospital stays (OR = 0.6, P = 0.034).

This suggests that physical activity promotion among socioeconomically disadvantaged older adults has the potential to provide cost savings.

This will not be known, however, until physical activity can be promoted and maintained among these adults.

The reference guide of physical activity programs for older adults: A resource for planning interventions

This 2007 CDC document provides information on 17 physical activity programs that could be used with older adults having healthy to frail functional status.

All of the programs contain physical activity components that might achieve important benefits for all older adults with diabetes. A limited number of the programs were designed specifically for those with diabetes or pre-diabetes.


Building health: Creating and enhancing places for healthy, active lives

Discover the latest evidence on urban planning and its potential positive impact on health in this document from the U.K.

"How far by which route and why ? ..."

"... A Spatial Analysis of Pedestrian Preference" This report from the Norman Y. Mineta International Institute for Surface Transportation Policy Studies, San Jose State University College of Business, "examines the distance pedestrians walk to rail transit stations and the environmental factors that influence their route choice." (6.9mb pdf)

September 14, 2007

By Rosanne Prinsen, MSc, Alberta Centre for Active Living


Government of Canada response to the seventh report of the Standing Committee on Health, Healthy Weights for Healthy Kids

Here's the link to the original report published in March 2007:

Kids kept indoors face “nature deficit disorder”

CP Wire (25/08/2007) writes that the “vague and powerful fears” parents harbour about giving their children free reign to frolic outdoors means a whole generation of young ones are facing a “nature deficit disorder,'” say experts and observers.

There is a “disturbing trend” that shows children are involved in mostly indoor organized activities, Doiron said. Nathan Perkins, an associate professor at the University of Guelph, said the need for structure in people's lives is making nature an increasingly “programmed experience.”

He said people are inclined to plan outings like a nature walk or canoe trip in advance rather than just do it on a whim. Perkins, who collaborated with graduate student Sarah McCans to research the role mothers play in exposing children to nature, said moms have “very vague and powerful fears” when it comes to letting their kids play unsupervised outdoors.

Most parental fears stem from news reports about outdoor safety and children's encounters with predators, said Richard Louv, who recently wrote a book about the dwindling relationship children have with nature.

Louv's latest book, “Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature Deficit Disorder,” has sold 160,000 copies and helped spark the creation of several groups dedicated to encouraging kids to get outdoors. Louv said when people hear the term “nature deficit disorder” they're immediately familiar with the issue.

Bob Peart, one of the organizers behind Nature Child Reunion based in Sidney, B.C., said kids often need to be reminded outdoor activities exist. Peart said part of the problem stems from parents who don't encourage their children to do simple outdoor activities such as walking to school.

According to data from the Insurance Corporation of British Columbia, nearly half of all children living in urban and suburban B.C. get a ride to school. Another part of the problem is the number of activities competing for children's time and attention.

Statistics Canada's most recent numbers on television viewing indicates children between ages two and 11 spend an average of 14.1 hours a week in front of the tube. While children might enjoy spending time in front of the screen, Doiron said it's important to get kids to increase their physical activity.

Thirteen new studies of systematic reviews and research designed to increase levels of physical activity

Play your way to fitness, Physical activity all day long: Building movement into the school curriculum and Switch off the TV and PLAY are among 13 new studies of systematic reviews and research available at

The purpose of conducting the studies of systematic reviews and research designed to increase levels of physical activity for children and youth is to help generate ideas and discussion among individuals interested in improving children’s physical activity levels in Nova Scotia.


Blueprint for Action aims to get people moving

The Metroland - Halton Division (Wed 05 Sep 2007 Byline: Krissie Rutherford) writes that the Halton Active Living Network (HALNet) launched a report yesterday, geared at increasing the number of Halton residents who are regularly physically active by 20 per cent by the year 2012.

The Blueprint for Action doubles a goal outlined by the Ontario government, which has pledged to ensure the number of active residents in the province grows 10 per cent by 2010, MPP Kevin Flynn said.

The Blueprint for Action has taken more than a year and a half to complete.

The combined effort of many Halton organizations in areas including fitness, sport, education and health, some of the plan's initiatives are underway now, with others to be phased in over the next few years.

Supporting physical activity in schools and organizing community events to promote fitness are among the short-term actions, while implementing more active transportation and changing policies in schools are just some of the initiatives the plan outlines for the future.

Canadian Fitness and Lifestyle Research Institute (CFLRI)

CFLRI has recently released the second set of topics from its 2006 Physical Activity and Sport Monitor.

Topics include: Body mass index, overall health status and chronic conditions, life satisfaction and self reported mental health, stress, barriers to being active, potential influence on recruitment and turnover, beliefs about work-related benefits of physical activity, absenteeism and workplace injury, illness, and stress.

CIHI: Health of the nation newsletter (Fall 2007)

Visit the What's New section and check out “Age and gender differences in youth physical activity: Does physical maturity matter?”

New Brunswick launches campaign for healthy living
The Globe and Mail (Thu 06 Sep 2007 Source: CP) reports that the New Brunswick government has launched a two-year marketing campaign to encourage New Brunswickers to live a healthier lifestyle.

The province has the most physically inactive population in Canada and some of the most obese children in the country.

The government is spending $500,000 over the next two years on a campaign that includes television, print and radio ads. The ads encourage parents to become active and set an example for their children.

Physical Activity Symposium 2008

Tuesday & Wednesday, March 4-5, 2008
Crowne Plaza Toronto Don Valley Hotel Toronto, Ontario

The annual PARC Conference has evolved into the PARC Physical Activity Symposium 2008 to provide an engaging and practical professional development opportunity for physical activity promoters across Ontario.

The PARC Symposium is planned by and designed for physical activity promoters from public health and community health centres, recreation leaders, physical activity consultants and others interested in physical activity promotion.

Join professionals with an interest in and commitment to active healthy living. Early Bird Registration deadline is Friday, December 14, 2007.

Workbook for influencing physical activity policy

As an addendum to PARC’s online Toolkit for Influencing Physical Activity Policy, PARC’s new workbook is a user-friendly tool for anyone venturing to create a physical activity policy within their community, school or workplace.

It is suitable for all levels of experience or comfort with policy development. The workbook follows the Health Communication Unit’s (THCU) eight-step policy development model.
For a more comprehensive look at policy development, please see PARC’s online Toolkit for Influencing Physical Activity Policy.


Mental health promotion symposium

Presentations from the Mental Health Promotion Symposium held in Vancouver June 10, 2007 are now available online.

Symposium topics include research and community approaches to mental health promotion in the following contexts: rural and remote villages, victims of trauma, community development, youth in schools, Indigenous and Inuit populations, people with a mental illness, healthy aging and national policy.


New Food Guide resources to assist educators and communicators
The Office of Nutrition Policy and Promotion offers new tools on the Health Canada website to assist educators and communicators in sharing information about Canada’s Food Guide.

Tools include two PowerPoint presentations: the first one helps to explain Canada’s Food Guide to consumers and the second provides more in-depth information for you to present to other health intermediaries.

You will also find an article, Eating Well with Canada’s Food Guide (2007): Development of the Food Intake Pattern, published in the April 2007 issue of Nutrition Reviews (Vol.65, Number 4).

This article provides a detailed description of the process used to develop the food intake pattern of Canada’s Food Guide.

Finally, there’s expanded information in the Frequently Asked Questions section on the website, as well as a Questions and Answers for Educators section. These questions arose following the broadcast in March 2007 of the webcast, Developing Age and Gender Specific Food Intake Patterns.


Effects of physical exercise on depressive symptoms among the aged: A systematic review

Sjosten,N., Kivela,S.L. (2006). The effects of physical exercise on depressive symptoms among the aged: A systematic review. International Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry, 21(5), 410-418.

Objective: To determine the effects of physical exercise on depression or depressive symptoms among the aged.

Method: A literature search covering various medical databases was conducted to identify randomised controlled trials (RCT's) about the effects of exercise treatments on depression or depressive symptoms among the aged.

The studies were classified according to the baseline depression status of participants and assessed in relation to allocation concealment, blinding at outcome assessment, follow-up and whether intention to treat analysis was used. Studies meeting the inclusion criteria were accepted.

Results: Exercise was effective in treating depression among those suffering from minor or major depression and in reducing depressive symptoms among those with a high amount of depressive symptoms at baseline.

However, both the allocation concealment and the blinding method were adequately described in only four studies.

Furthermore, intention-to-treat analysis was conducted in half of the studies and some follow-up information after the intervention has been published for five studies.

Conclusions: Physical exercise may be efficient in reducing clinical depression and depressive symptoms in the short-term among the aged suffering from depression or a high amount of depressive symptoms. More well controlled studies are needed.

Playground for seniors
The Vancouver Sun (Fri 31 Aug 2007, Byline: Catherine Rolfsen) reports that the Tsawwassen Lions Club has built a senior-specific wellness park at a cost of $150,000.

The idea came from a similar facility in Beijing. A playground for seniors makes sense in British Columbia, which has the oldest population of any province except Quebec and the most active seniors in Canada.

The human kinetics department at Langley's Trinity Western University, led by Prof. Daryl Page and his recreation leadership, designed the park to focus on falls prevention, flexibility and strength training.

Equipment includes the “pod step,” a series of platforms at various heights, the “ramp walk,” a gently sloping track, and a balance beam a few centimetres high with built-in hand rails. More equipment is on order.

Work-related physical activity and the risk of dementia and Alzheimer's disease

Rovio S., Kåreholt I., Viitanen M., Winblad B., Tuomilehto J., Soininen H., Nissinen A., & Kivipelto M. (2007). Work-related physical activity and the risk of dementia and Alzheimer's disease. International Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry, 22(9), 874-882.

Background: Leisure-time physical activity has been related with a reduced risk of dementia and Alzheimer's disease (AD).

The effects of occupational and commuting physical activity (physical activity at work and on the way to work) on cognitive health are still unclear. This study aimed to clarify the association between work-related physical activity and dementia/AD.

Methods: Participants of the Cardiovascular Risk Factors, Aging, and Dementia (CAIDE) study were derived from random, population-based samples previously studied in a survey carried out in 1972, 1977, 1982, or 1987.

After an average follow-up of 21 years, 1449 individuals (73%) aged 65 to 79 years participated in the re-examination in 1998.

Results: Neither occupational [Odds Ratio (OR) 1.45; 95% Confidence Intervals (CI) 0.66-3.17] nor commuting physical activity (OR 0.46; 95% CI 0.10-2.17) were associated with the risk of dementia or AD after adjustments for age, sex, education, follow-up time, locomotor symptoms, main occupation during life, income at midlife, leisure-time physical activity, other subtype of work-related physical activity, ApoE genotype, vascular disorders and the smoking status.

There were also no interactions between work-related physical activity and the ApoE 4 genotype, leisure-time physical activity or sex.

Conclusions: In this study, work-related physical activity was not found to be sufficient to protect against dementia and AD later in life.

The lack of effect might be partly due to a residual confounding. Nevertheless, physical activity during leisure-time may be beneficial even for people who are physically active at work or when commuting.


Survey shows business people don't exercise enough
Stressed out business people need to take more exercise; “Two out of three business people admit to doing no exercise”

[30/08/2007. Source: M2 PRESSWIRE] reports that half of the U.K. business population rarely takes part in any sporting activity or physical exercise, according to a recent survey conducted by Siemens.

This lack of regular exercise may be contributing to increased levels of stress, ill health and impaired performance in the work place.

The poll of 1,087 U.K. business people, commissioned by Siemens, found that 29 per cent of female executives did no exercise at all, while less than a third (31 per cent) did the recommended levels of three sessions per week.

The results are not much better for men, with 32 per cent admitting that they fail to take any exercise at all.

The research found that 80 per cent of business people agree that exercise helps to reduce stress levels, with 69 per cent of women and 62% of men wishing that they could spend more time working out, but finding that their busy, time-poor lifestyles prevent them from doing so.

Siemens, the partner of GB Rowing, conducted the research as part of a campaign to encourage the business community to take more exercise in order to improve their health, combat stress and to enhance performance in the workplace.

With the World Rowing Championships currently taking place in Germany, rowing has been identified as an ideal form of exercise for busy, stressed executives.

September 7, 2007

By Rosanne Prinsen, MSc, Alberta Centre for Active Living


Diversity in physical activity and health

The Cooper Institute and the American Association for Physical Activity and Recreation are hosting "Diversity in Physical Activity and Health," the 10th Cooper Institute Conference, October 18 to 20 in Dallas, TX.

The conference will focus on measurement and research related topics and will explore issues such as obesity standards for children; physical activity and health disparities, sub-population dose-response issues and the role of culture in physical activities.

The Delta Optimist (Sat 18 Aug 2007, Byline: Dave Willis) reports that the McKee Seniors Recreation Centre will be trying a new sport at its next Sports Day.

Pickleball, an amalgamation of tennis, badminton and ping-pong, is played on a badminton-size court with a low net, paddles and a perforated plastic ball.

The game is played by two to four players and only the servers can score. First team to 11 wins.

The game originated in the southwestern U.S., where it is gaining in popularity The U.S.A. Pickleball Association claims it is the fastest growing sport in America. The game is named after the inventor's dog Pickles.


Dissemination of physical activity interventions by state health departments

Brownson R., Ballew P., Dieffenderfer B., Haire-Joshu D., Heath G., Kreuter M., & Myers B. (2007). Evidence-based interventions to promote physical activity: What contributes to dissemination by state health departments. American Journal of Preventive Medicine, 33 (1S), S66-S78.

Forty-nine physical activity contacts in state health departments responded to a questionnaire about distributing evidence-based physical activity interventions.

Commonly reported issues included resources (money and staff), evidence of effectiveness, presence of community coalitions and support of upper-level management.

Most respondents were familiar with the Community Guide to Physical Activity recommendations and believed it was a good time to implement them. A wide range of interventions based on the recommendations is underway.


The effectiveness of school-based interventions in promoting physical activity and fitness among children and youth: A systematic review

Fit kids act
Press release at Read the text of the bill at

The Fitness Integrated with Teaching Kids (FIT Kids) Act (HR 3257) was introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives on July 30 to improve standards for physical education in American schools.

The Act would add physical education measures to those used for assessing accountability with No Child Left Behind.

States would have to demonstrate progress toward the national goal or in requiring 150 minutes of physical education per week for elementary schools and 225 minutes per week in middle and high schools. Progress will be reported on school report cards.

The bill has been assigned to the House Committee on Education and Labor. Sponsors hope to include these requirements in the No Child Left Behind, which will face reauthorization in September.

Global Alliance for Physical Activity (GAPA)
The Alliance was established in 2006 to help communicate, co-ordinate and advocate for population-based approaches to promoting physical activity.

Download presentations from the International Union of Health Promotion and Education (IUHPE) and other publications and guidance documents.

For updated U.S. physical activity guidelines, go to

The Guidelines include two sections:

  • Guidelines for healthy adults under age 65.
  • Guidelines for adults over age 65(or adults 50-64 with chronic conditions, such as arthritis).

Headings include:

  • basic recommendations
  • tips for meeting the guidelines
  • starting an exercise program
  • improvements from the 1995 recommendations
  • frequently asked questions