Government of Canada Supports Hockey Project Aimed at Promoting Healthy Weights for Men

From: Public Health Agency of Canada

News release

Hockey Fans in Training to target men who are overweight or obese in communities across Canada

April 5, 2019 London, Ontario Public Health Agency of Canada

Maintaining a healthy lifestyle, including regular physical activity and healthy eating, plays an important role in the well-being and quality of life of Canadians and helps prevent chronic diseases like type 2 diabetes, heart disease and some cancers. Excess weight is a top risk factor for developing chronic diseases and significantly compromises the health of Canadians. In Canada, men (particularly those who are middle-aged) are almost 35% more likely than women to be overweight or obese.

Today, on behalf of the Honourable Ginette Petitpas Taylor, Minister of Health, Peter Fragiskatos, Member of Parliament, announced that the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) will be investing up to $2.5 million over three and a half years to help expand Western University’s Hockey Fans in Training (Hockey FIT) program across the country. This program aims to motivate Canadian adult males to eat healthier foods and become more physically active by incorporating participants’ passion for hockey into the initiative. The MP made this announcement while meeting with project partners at a participating YMCA and viewing a demonstration of some of the activities that participants take part in through the program.

Hockey FIT will partner with Canadian Hockey League (CHL) teams and YMCA locations to implement and deliver 12-week sessions targeting 1,280 men who are overweight or obese between the ages of 35 and 65 in at least 32 communities across Canada. The program includes a classroom-based education component focusing on healthy eating and the importance of physical activity, and an exercise component, including training in aerobic, strength and flexibility exercises. Connecting to participants’ passion for hockey, the program also incorporates activities like stick handling drills with rubber pucks to promote being active. It also includes the chance to go behind the scenes at a CHL team’s home rink like visiting the team dressing room and chatting with players and staff. Hockey FIT will use various social media and technologies to support participants during and after the program.


“The Government of Canada knows that physical activity is a pillar of healthy living. That’s why we are committed to supporting and encouraging initiatives like the Hockey FIT program that get Canadians moving and keep them active through physical activity and sport. This program is encouraging men across Canada to take their love of hockey and turn it into an opportunity to improve their health by moving more and eating healthier foods.”

The Honourable Ginette Petitpas Taylor
Minister of Health

“Canadian men live an average of four years less than Canadian women—with an even greater gap for Indigenous men and men living in rural settings or with lower incomes. Finding innovative ways to encourage men to get more active, improve their diets and achieve and maintain healthy weights is important to help change this trend. Programs like Hockey FIT are an example of turning a passion into a path to improving one’s health and well-being.”

Dr. Theresa Tam
Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer

“Men are under-represented in health promotion programs and visit their doctor less than women; this may be associated with worsening health indicators in men compared to women in Canada. Our research suggests that men associate physical activity with sport and athleticism and prefer health promotion programs that incorporate competition in the company of other men. Given Canada’s love of hockey and that junior hockey in large and small communities across the country is often a rallying point, Hockey Fans in Training will engage men who are fans of their favourite junior hockey team to participate in adopting a healthy lifestyle and improve their health. Our partnerships cut across public and private sectors to provide a range of innovative tools and technologies to support long term health change in Canadian men, which we believe will positively impact their families too.”

Dr. Robert Petrella
Professor, Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry, Western University

Quick facts

  • Excess weight is one of the top risk factors for developing chronic diseases. In 2014, almost 62% of Canadian men were overweight or obese (versus 46% of Canadian women).
  • Hockey FIT is supported through the Healthy Living and Chronic Disease Prevention – Multi-sectoral Partnerships (MSP) program, which supports projects across the country for a wide variety of populations including children and youth, women, Indigenous Peoples and new Canadians. Past and current partnerships of the MSP program include ParticipACTION, Smart Moms, Farm to School and Walk or Run to Quit — all with the goal of lowering the risks of developing chronic diseases by improving access to the information, resources and services all Canadians need to make healthier choices.
  • Through this project, PHAC’s MSP Program is piloting a new funding model where Hockey FIT will be eligible for incentive payments beyond the initial investment for this project, based on measurable improvements in the health of participants, including cardiorespiratory fitness, healthy weights and blood pressure. This innovative approach is a first for the Government of Canada in the area of public health.
  • The Canadian Institutes of Health Research is also providing funding to Western University for the Hockey FIT program through a separate grant agreement.


Thierry Bélair
Office of Ginette Petitpas Taylor
Minister of Health

Media Relations
Public Health Agency of Canada

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