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HESA Committee News Release

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Standing Committee on Health
house of commons
HOUSE OF COMMONS
CHAMBRE DES COMMUNES
OTTAWA, CANADA
K1A 0A6

Comité permanent de la santé

For immediate release


NEWS RELEASE


HEALTH COMMITTEE TARGETS CHILDHOOD OBESITY

Ottawa, March 27, 2007 -

The Standing Committee on Health today tabled a report in the House of Commons entitled Healthy Weights for Healthy Kids. The Committee is responding to evidence that obesity among children almost tripled over three decades and that parents are in denial regarding the severity of the problem. The Committee wants action now to halt this epidemic and reverse the trend.

The Health Committee report calls on the federal government to move quickly to utilize the positive message of the Olympics to halt the increase in childhood obesity by the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Games. The Committee has also identified three key action items that can be immediately undertaken by the federal government to stem the occurrence of childhood obesity. They include:

  • A comprehensive public awareness campaign
  • Mandatory, standardized, simple front of package labelling
  • The removal of trans fats from the Canadian diet, replaced with an alternative low in saturated fat

“For the first time in recorded history, our younger generations are expected to live shorter lives than their parents due to obesity.” stated Rob Merrifield, M.P. (Yellowhead), Chair of the Standing Committee. “New and aggressive action is required to address this complex, and ultimately very costly, problem.”

According to the Chair, “The federal government in collaboration with provincial and territorial partners and together with children, parents, teachers, physicians, community planners and other stakeholders can stem the rising rates of childhood overweight and obesity.”

Mr. Merrifield went on to say that “Committee members are very impressed with the range of promising initiatives already taking place across the country. However, we believe that there is no single intervention at any one level that can effect the necessary changes. For this reason, multiple efforts must be taken simultaneously on numerous fronts.”

Witnesses also reinforced the conviction of the Committee that the federal government must act now to collect data to support achievable targets for reducing obesity and to increase research capacity across the range of health determinants that affect the food choices and physical activity levels of children. They particularly emphasized that parents who seek to ensure adequate nourishment and physical exercise for their children face barriers related to income, community support, physical environments, and other realities. In particular, First Nations and Inuit children who fall under the responsibility of the federal government require immediate attention across a wide range of sectors.

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For more information, please contact:
Carmen DePape, Clerk of the Standing Committee on Health
Tel: (613) 995-4108
E-mail: HESA@parl.gc.ca