Friday, February 22, 2013

BCHC Newsletter - February 2013


The Loss of a Champion

We’re all very saddened by the sudden passing away of Clyde Hertzman this month. Clyde was the director of the Human Early Learning Partnership (HELP) and a Canada Research Chair in population health and human development in UBC's School of Population and Public Health.  Clyde was a real champion and influential person for population health and early childhood development.  Many will sorely miss him and our thoughts are with his family, colleagues and community.  Read more...


Building Resilient Neighbourhoods

As part of BCHC’s partnership with Fraser Basin Council’s Smart Planning for Communities (SPC), SPC is collaborating with the Community Social Planning Council of Greater Victoria and Transition Victoria on the Building Resilient Neighbourhoods project.  

Over the past 5 months, the project team hosted a 5-part workshop series on neighbourhood resilience, and building capacity to pro-actively respond and adapt to social, environmental and economic challenges. Through the workshops, participating community members and organizations throughout the Capital Region have been exploring ways to meet our basic needs closer to home through expanding local, co-operative, and self-reliant community networks, strengthening social ties and community cohesion, and operating in greater harmony with ecological limits.

In the next phase of this project, the partners will continue to offer regional learning events through a Resilience Learning and Action Table. They will also be selecting and working with one “resilient demonstration neighbourhood” in the Capital Region to engage citizens in a comprehensive assessment, planning and action process related to building resilience. To learn more about these opportunities, click here.

For more information or to register for the upcoming March 5th provincial webinar “Strengthening Resilience: Opportunities for Local Governments & Communities”, click here.


Greg Goldberg

“I made a promise that if I got healthy again, I’d do everything I could to give back to brain injury survivors and make the journey as smooth as I can.”

In 1998, Greg Goldberg suffered a traumatic brain injury (TBI) after a gravel truck hit his car. One way that Greg was able to release the tension and stress of what happened was to keep a journal." Keeping a journal was such a release and outlet that I decided to write a fictional book based on my real life experience," states Greg. Greg's book 'The Organ of Intelligence' is a dark comedy, the farcical story of Reuban Cohen. The book follows Reuban's journey from injury to a new identity throughout his various struggles (losing his job, his marriage and life as he knew it before the accident). 

Today, Greg uses his experience of living with a brain injury to fuel his compassion and passion to help others with similar experiences.  He contributes countless volunteer hours to many important causes, such as the Victoria Literacy Program teaching adults how to read and he also donates a portion of proceeds from book sales to Brain Injury associations and support groups all across Canada. Greg delivers motivational talks and also hosts a TBI Gameshow.

His latest project, “helmet hair,” is an effort to raise awareness about wearing a helmet while cycling and engaging in other risky activities. His inspiration emerged from a news article about people refusing to wear bike helmets for short trips, as it messed up their hair.  These days he’s spreading around stickers bearing “Helmet hair or long term care” and “Helmet head or hospital bed,” and is speaking at elementary schools across Greater Victoria.  For more updates on Greg please visit his website here.

Note: The B.C. Brain Injury Association estimates about 22,000 people in B.C. suffer brain injuries each year. A 2011 study by the Cridge showed at least half of the homeless population have brain injuries, and most of those suffered the injury before becoming homeless.



Nutrition Information in Restaurants –Feeding the “Educated Consumer”
By: Amanda Ng, Graduate Student at the University of Victoria – Master’s in Public Health and Social Policy

Did you know that healthy adults should aim for approximately 1,500 to 2,300 milligrams of sodium per day (Health Canada,2012)? The average Canadian currently ingests approximately 3400 mg of sodium on a daily basis, which is nearly double the amount we need.

Did you know that healthy adults should aim for 2,000 to 2,400 calories per day? Although individual needs vary depending on age, activity level, and gender, we tend to consume way more calories than required.

Excessive calories and sodium are linked to obesity and high blood pressure, respectively, which costs the Canadian healthcare system billions of dollars each year in healthcare and related costs. High blood pressure is a major risk factor for heart attacks, stroke, and kidney disease. Reducing sodium intake could prevent up to 23, 500 cardiovascular events annually and generate direct healthcare savings of $1.38 billion annually (Healthy Canada, 2010). It is apparent that a healthy diet and adhering to healthy intakes of both calories and sodium can save lives and save dollars for our healthcare system.

The  “educated consumer” is one of the top 10 food trends for 2013 (Lempert, 2012) as consumers become increasingly curious about where their food is coming from and what is in their food. On average, Canadians purchase a meal or a snack from a restaurant approximately 1.7 times a week (Canadian Foodservices and Restaurant Association, 2010). Compared to foods prepared at home, foods purchased outside the home tend to be higher in calories, of poorer nutritional quality, and served in larger portions. Nutrition labelling is only mandated on pre-packaged foods as a Nutrition Facts Table, consumers eating out at restaurants are stranded without nutrition information to help them make healthy food choices.

British Columbia is the first province to implement a voluntary nutrition information program in restaurants. The Ministry of Health officially launched the Informed Dining program in May 2012. Participating restaurants display the Informed Dining program logo and a statement on the menu or menu board advising consumers that nutrition information is available upon request. Calorie and nutrition information is presented in a separate brochure, menu insert, sign or poster upon request or before the point of ordering – so consumers are able to make informed menu decisions. The program currently includes participation from more than 300 restaurant outlets including independent and chain restaurant operators. The Heart & Stroke Foundation recently launched a new campaign ‘We want it’ with the focus on getting nutritional information into BC Restaurants. On this website people can tell BC restaurants to list the calories, fat, sugar, and sodium and other nutritional information for their menu items.

It has been argued that consumers tend to have the mindset to “splurge” when they eat out and as such, the availability of nutrition information in restaurants may fall short of successfully altering consumer behaviour in ordering healthier menu item choices (CFRA, 2010). However, while consumers may stay fiercely loyal to ordering their favorite dishes, perhaps it can influence what they will eat later on that day or at the very least, it will be available when they are ready to use it.  If restaurants are to provide full disclosure of the nutritional content of their menu items, it may cause them to think again before generously dousing certain menu items in salt or high caloric sauces or reducing portion sizes. 

The United States are at the forefront in menu labelling; the City of New York implemented mandatory menu labeling back in 2008 (Ries, 2012). Obama will be implementing a law that requires chain restaurants with 20 or more locations to post calorie information of items on their menus/menu boards so that it is visible at the point-of-purchase (Liu et al., 2012). There is a growing movement among chefs and restaurant executives in the US in creating new menu items that are healthy and low in calories and fat, but most importantly, are as equally enticing and appetizing (Pizam, 2011).

To induce any type of behavioural change, it takes a considerable amount of time, coupled with patience, and an open-mind to inevitable failures.  For Canada, nutrition information in restaurants needs to start with baby steps and ripple out into becoming the norm.  The Informed Dining program is still within early stages of inception, however, it is certainly a big step in the right direction. 

References & Resources:

Start 2013 off the Right Way with Healthy Eating for the Whole Family
By: Laura Kalina and Cheryl Christian

In trying to juggle schedules filled with school events, practices and work family meals often don't happen. Each family member grabs food on the run with little time to think about nutrition and sharing time together. Yet there is more to family meals than what is on the plate.   

Research clearly indicates many benefits when it comes to eating together as a family. Children eat more vegetables and fruit, perform and behave better in school, and are less likely to smoke or use drugs. Preschoolers who are included in the family ritual of eating together show an increased vocabulary.

Canadians report eating together as their favourite time to interact, yet one quarter to one third of families indicate they never or seldom eat together, particularly as children get older. The challenges of conflicting schedules, busy parents, or working late are most often cited as the reasons families don’t eat together regularly.

If you want to make 2013 the year your family reconnects around the meal table, here are some tips:

  1. Decide as a family that it is important to eat together and then aim for at least one family meal each day - breakfast, lunch or dinner. More...
  2. Turn the TV off - the same goes for cell phones, video games and other distractions. More...
  3. Involve the kids in preparing meals – they are more likely to eat foods they help shop for and make. Even young children can wash vegetables, tear lettuce for a salad, or use a plastic knife and cutting board to cut chunks of cucumber or peppers. Let your older kids (with supervision if necessary) choose a recipe one night a week and prepare it. You may find you've got a budding chef in the house.More ...
  4. Give each family member a chance to speak and share the highlights of their day. More..
  5. Keep meal times pleasant by avoiding the battles that can happen. Parents need to offer children healthy food choices, and allow children to decide which of the foods and how much to eat. More..
  6. Use kitchen appliances to make life easier. A crock pot slow cooker means you can put everything into it in the morning when you leave the house. More...
  7. Have the ingredients handy for two to three quick, easy meals. Have a few stand-by meals for when life is really hectic. Quick fix meals like scrambled eggs, sprouted grain toast, and fruit can satisfy hunger if you're in a rush. More...
  8. Try the Quick-Prep Method!  Cook 3-4 protein sources and chop a variety of vegetables twice a week.  Place containers in fridge, ready-to-go for Mix and Match Meals. More...
  9. Get together with friends on a Sunday afternoon and share recipes and have fun cooking together. You'll have a great time and meals for the rest of the week! More...
  10. Check out community food and cooking events - maybe your city has a community kitchen where you can meet others who want to learn to cook and eat healthfully. More...
By sharing just one meal a day your family (or friends) will likely find better communication happening on a regular basis, and experiencing the benefits of healthy eating too! Now what's for dinner?

To find out more about the authors and their work please click here

  • American Dietetic Association Foundation:  Executive Summary of Family Nutrition and Physical Activity Survey. 2003. The State of Family Nutrition and Physical Activity:  Are We Making Progress?
  • Anderson SE, Whitaker RC.  Household Routines and Obesity in US Preschool Aged Children.  Pediatrics. 2010;125(3);420-428.
  • Birch LL. Are Social Meals More Nutritious? Journal of Gastronomy. 1993:7(1).  
  • Cason KL.  Family Mealtimes:  More than Just Eating Together.  J Am Diet Assoc.  2006;106(4):532-533.
  • Low GI Meals website -


Webinar ~  Strengthening Resilience: Opportunities for Local Governments and Communities
Where: Online
When: March 5, 1:30 PM – 3:30 PM (PST)
What: A resilient community or neighbourhood has the capacity to respond and adapt to the social, environmental and economic challenges. Join us online at no cost for this interactive webinar exploring the key characteristics of resilient communities and opportunities and strategies to strengthen resilience at the local level. To register click here

Webinar ~ Guess Who’s Coming to Town: Health Impacts of Work Camps in Close Proximity to Communities
Where: Online
When: April 11, 1:30 PM – 3:30 PM (PST)
What: This two-hour session invites dialogue from northern communities on specific topics that are critical to improving the health outcomes of northern people, recognizing that community and civic involvement is a cornerstone to healthy people and populations. To register click here


REPORT ~ Global Ageing and Environmental Change: Attitudes, Risks and Opportunities

Global ageing and environmental change bring together two key policy challenges, which need to be addressed to ensure a safe, secure, equitable and sustainable future. Growing old in the twenty-first century will bring with it the unique challenge of a changing global environment with variable climate and weather patterns which will impact on all aspects of life.

In order to effectively manage the impacts associated with environmental change it will be necessary to confront and integrate social dimensions in adaptation planning. This requires a better understanding of the effects a changing environment will have on older people at the local, regional, national and international level and in different geographical and socio-economic contexts.

This study reviews the key issues relevant to global ageing and environmental change. It examines older people not only in terms of their vulnerability to environmental threats but as contributors to environmental sustainability.
To download the report click here

Source: Stockholm Environment Institute