Giving Kids a Healthier Start

Expert Advice to Guide New Ontario Government Initiatives to Reduce Childhood Obesity

March 4, 2013 ~ Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care

The new Ontario government is taking action to give young people a healthier start in life.

Today, the Healthy Kids Panel presented its recommendations to help improve the health of children in Ontario. The recommendations will inform the government’s next steps to reduce childhood obesity, as set out in the province’s Action Plan for Health Care. 

The panel drew from a broad range of experts, engaging health care leaders, non-profit organizations, academia, and industry in developing evidence-based and cost-effective ways to reduce childhood obesity.

Recommendations from the panel focus on:

  • Starting all kids on the path to health by enhancing pre-natal care for families and promoting breastfeeding
  • Changing the food environment to increase the availability of healthy choices and expand nutrition programs in schools
  • Building healthy communities that encourage healthy eating and active living

As a first step, the government is striking an inter-ministerial working group, chaired by Deb Matthews, Minister of Health and Long-Term Care, and Teresa Piruzza, Minister of Children and Youth Services to direct government action on implementing the panel’s recommendations.

Giving Ontario’s children the best and healthiest start in life is part of the new Ontario government’s commitment to health promotion, patient centred care and building a fair society.

Quick Facts

  • An estimated 75 per cent of obese children become obese adults.
  • In 2009, the direct and indirect costs to Ontario’s health care system and the economy associated with obesity were estimated to be $4.5 billion.
  • In 2004, 27.5 per cent of Ontario children between the ages 2 to 17 were overweight or obese.
  • Childhood obesity rates for Canadian children between ages 2 to 17 have risen from 15 per cent in 1979 to 26 per cent in 2004.


The Healthy Kids Panel has produced an excellent report that provides us with invaluable advice on how we can help make our kids healthier. As part of our Action Plan for Health Care, our government is committed to taking action on many of these recommendations in the coming months.”

Deb Matthews
Minister of Health and Long-Term Care

These recommendations further strengthen our commitment to ensuring that children get the best possible start. We know the importance of healthy eating and nutrition for children. This combined with other programs such as investments in pre-natal and post-partum supports, healthy child development programs, early learning and opportunities will ensure the success of our children and our province.”

Teresa Piruzza
Minister of Children and Youth Services

Our report is based on advice from all sectors including industry, academia and health care, and each recommendation received unanimous support from panel members. Unfortunately, there is no magic wand solution. Like with smoking and other complex public health issues, only a stacking of initiatives can make a difference and fundamentally change the trajectory. We need an ‘all hands on deck’ approach.”

Alex Munter
Co-Chair, Healthy Kids Panel and President, and CEO, Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario

Ensuring the health and well-being of our children is essential to the future of our province. The panel recommendations are a road map to safeguarding that future and creating an environment where parents are empowered and have the resources they need to make healthy choices for their families. The healthy choice. The easy choice. Every time. Our kids deserve nothing less.”

Kelly Murumets
Co-Chair, Healthy Kids Panel, and President and CEO, ParticipACTION


Recommendations of the Healthy Kids Panel Report

In May 2012, the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care assembled a group of experts to serve on its Healthy Kids Panel and provide advice on how to best achieve the government’s target of reducing childhood obesity.

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