The collective vision is to lead the nation in increasing healthy eating and healthy physical activity.

Healthy Eating and Healthy Physical Activity

About Healthy Eating and Healthy Physical Activity

When community leaders first came together in 2007, the data on childhood obesity was clear and troubling. Today, as international, national, provincial, and local reports indicate, the factors influencing child and youth healthy weights, rates of sedentary behaviour, healthy physical activity levels, and optimal nutrition habits remain problematic in Canada.

Childhood obesity is a global priority. There is universal agreement that the key to reversing the obesity trend is systemic change designed to promote healthy lifestyles. The goal of the Healthy Eating and Healthy Physical Activity priority is to create environments, neighbourhoods, and opportunities that promote and support daily physical activity and healthy eating for all children, youth, and families in London.


The foundation of the of the Healthy Eating and Healthy Physical Activity (HEHPA) priority work plans include multi-level, Collective Impact, community-based approach that was developed around policy change, awareness and education, high quality, accessible programs and service, strategic investment, and community mobilization.

To represent the complex, inter-related nature of factors affecting childhood obesity and the unhealthy habits of poor nutrition and sedentary behaviour, Child and Youth Network partners use the graphic model created by Public Health Ontario (PHO):  Addressing Obesity in Children and Youth: Evidence to Guide Action for Ontario (2013). Adopting both a socio-ecological and a life-course perspective, PHO developed an integrated framework to describe the causal factors that contribute to childhood obesity, and to identify leverage points for the prevention and treatment of childhood obesity. These tools together represent the approach that HEHPA partners utilize to meet the collective goal and outcomes of the priority. 

Childhood Obesity Evidence Review Framework


  • More children, youth, and families are engaged in regular, healthy physical activity. 

  • More children, youth, and families interrupt sedentary behaviour more frequently on a daily basis.

  • More children, youth, and families are engaged in daily healthy eating habits including a reduced consumption of sugar sweetened beverages and increased consumption of vegetables and fruit.

  • More children, youth, and families, live in and/or have frequent access to healthy, supportive environments that encourage, provide for, and lead to increased physical activity and healthy eating habits.


Identify and Advocate for Policy Improvement Opportunities within Local Organizations and Jurisdictions that Facilitate Better Healthy Eating and Physical Activity Outcomes

This initiative identifies and addresses policy gaps and opportunities about healthy eating, physical activity, and sedentary behaviour within the London community. This initiative provides supports to advocate for policy change within local organizations. Advocacy work within this initiative reinforces and enhances ongoing policy development and advocacy work of local partner organizations. Activities within this initiative include:

  • Adopting Active and Safe Routes to School (ASRTS) action plans.
  • Altering content of vending machines in schools and municipal facilities.
  • Integrating shade policies into park and school settings.
  • Creating consistent food policies (e.g. snack programs) across organizations/ programs.
  • Developing physical activity policies for child care settings.



CYN partners identify policy opportunities through advocacy initiatives each year. 

Campaign Amongst CYN Partner Organizations to Model Healthy Lifestyle Habits

Research shows that "role modelling" is amongst the most powerful motivations to sustain changes in habits. This initiative encourages and supports CYN partners to 'walk the walk' by adopting healthy eating and physical activity practices and policies within their own organizations. Activities within this initiative include reducing the provision of sugar sweetened drinks at internal and external meetings and encouraging interruptions to sedentary behaviours within the workplace. By adopting such practical changes, CYN organizations are impacting the habits of employers and other stakeholders, who in turn influence practices within their respective families. 

Support Middlesex-London inMotionTM Social Marketing Strategy  

Social marketing - the use of messaging to educate, motivate, and provoke change - is a key component of altering a culture to be more supportive of healthy lifestyles. Research shows that when social marketing is coupled with other changes, such as those to programs, policies, or the built environment, there is higher impact. 

For several years, CYN partners adopted the in motionTM brand as part of a community-wide campaign to create a local universal brand for healthy, active living. While the brand continues to thrive through annual challenges in schools, CYN partners are exploring new branding opportunities to promote healthy eating and healthy physical activity.

Explore the Development and Implementation of a Community Cooking Challenge

Evidence indicates that sharing quality family mealtimes has a wealth of health benefits, especially for children, that can result in:

  • eating more fruit, vegetables, fibre, calcium-rich foods, and vitamins.
  • eating less junk food.
  • lower rates of obesity and eating disorders in children and adolescents.
  • fewer signs of depression.

Moreover, when families eat together, parents have the opportunity to role model healthy food choices, create safe spaces for kids to experiment with new food, and monitor serving sizes at mealtimes. 

With this initiative, CYN partners seek to explore the development of a resource guide outlining existing quality cooking programs for children, youth, and families in London.

Provide Coordinated Training and Education Opportunities

Moreover, when families eat together, parents have the opportunity to role model healthy food choices, create safe spaces for kids to experiment with new food, and monitor serving sizes at mealtimes. 

With this initiative, CYN partners seek to explore the development of a resource guide outlining existing quality cooking programs for children, youth, and families in London.

This initiative addresses gaps in awareness and lack of knowledge of the issues surrounding childhood obesity. It uses public presentations, forums, and discussions as opportunities to share information with CYN partners and London residents about the:

  • Services, expertise, and assets of community partners.
  • Complex issues of obesity, sedentary behaviour, and proper nutrition. 
  • The impacts of these issues in various cultural contexts.

Increasing community awareness of these issues provides common knowledge and equips individuals across the community with information that supports healthy changes in behaviour. Further, it builds connections across the network of partners and offers opportunities to work together in more intentional and collaborative ways. 

Activities within this initiative include partner-to-partner training sessions at HEHPA priority meetings, and public education / awareness sessions that cover topics such as healthy eating, healthy physical activity, environments, mental health, mindfulness, and cultural sensitivity. 

Improve Networking and Coordination Amongst Existing Food and Physical Literacy Programming 

Community partners agree that a large volume of healthy eating and healthy physical activity programming already exists in London. It is also felt that there are significant opportunities to increase connections, align efforts, and pool resources across the community to increase the collective impact of these programs. In turn, this increases the food literacy and physical literacy skills of children, youth, and families in our community.



Through this initiative, community partners are increasing connections and partnerships for the delivery of more effective and impactful health related programs and services in London. This initiative also provides opportunities to collaborate to best serve specific population groups, such as newcomers, or individuals with exceptionalities or special needs. 

Support and Enhance

With changes to the inmotionTM social marketing strategy, CYN partners are in the process of a comprehensive review of to determine what information is important and/or necessary to retain, and where this content will be housed. 

Support and Scale Up Built Environment Changes that Facilitate Better Physical Activity and Healthy Eating Outcomes

The "built environment" refers to the human-made, physical environments - both outdoors and indoors - where people live, work, and play. And research shows that built environments play a significant role in "who, what, where, when, and how" children, youth, and families engage in their communities: "where you live is as important as who you live with." This initiative takes a deliberate and intentional approach to supporting and implementing projects tied to built environments across London, including community facilities and other places families gather.

Support and Enhance Active and Safe Routes to School 

The Active and Safe Routes to School (ASRTS) committee facilitates and promotes active forms of travel by children and youth to and from school. The committee works with partners, including the CYN to improve children's health and safety, and the environment through comprehensive health promotion strategies such as engagement, education, research, and policy development. CYN partners provide support to the ASRTS committee's activities that fall within the City of London. 



Support and Enhance the Grade 5 Act-i-Pass Program 

London's Grade 5 Act-i-Pass program is a free recreation pass that allows all children in Grade 5 attending schools within London (plus a friend or chaperone) access to physical activity programming offered through a variety of local service provider partners. Through a collaborative partnership model, the program aims to decrease financial barriers and increase accessibility to physical activity through existing programs and services. Each year, the Act-i-Pass Program provides free physical activity programming to over 5,000 Grade 5 students in London for their entire school year. 

To access more information, please click here

Share and Encourage Consistent use of Existing CYN / HEHPA Resources across Partner Organizations

CYN and HEHPA tools and resources are developed based on research and evidence to assist partners in achieving goals and outcomes. This initiative supports the community's collective use of existing tools and resources by creating awareness that the tools exist, and how to access and use the tools. Available tools and resources include:

  • Physical Activity Trackers.
  • Recreation and Healthy Living Resource.
  • "Let's Start Talking" Grocery Store and On the Move Conversation Cards.
  • Menu Maker.
  • Harvest Bucks.
  • CYN Youth Framework.

To access these tools and resources, click here

Create, Adapt and Translate Tools and Resources that Support Healthy Eating and Physical Activity Opportunities

When CYN partners engage with Londoners, the use of resources helps to spark conversation about healthy living practices and can provide residents with important information and tools to build skills and knowledge for the future. This initiative invites partners to seek and identify opportunities for new tools and resources to develop and create. At the same time, partners involved with this work are updating and increasing accessibility of existing tools.

Activities within this initiative include:

  • Strategic adaptations (adapting a book series promoting healthy eating).
  • New research (editing the Menu Maker to reflect changes to Canada's Food Guide, updating the Recreation and Healthy Living Resource).
  • Translating resources to increase their accessibility to different language or ability groups.

To access tools and resources, click here.

Engage London's Family Centre Neighbourhoods in Promoting Resources and Initiatives that Align with HEHPA Goals and Outcomes

Family Centres provide single access points in neighbourhoods for families to connect with services and knowledge they need to support happy, healthy children in London. This initiative focuses on assisting London's Family Centres in sharing tools and resources that support healthy eating and healthy physical activity.  To support this initiative, partners are reviewing existing interventions and initiatives in Family Centres, and supporting identified opportunities to integrate HEHPA tools and resources. At the same time, partners are developing and implementing communication strategies to connect neighbourhood working groups and organizations with Family Centres. 

Support Events and Initiatives of HEHPA Partners that Contribute to a Culture of Healthy Living and Local Neighbourhoods

Research shows that children's neighbourhood activity is tied to a few key and mutually dependent factors: time and freedom a child has for neighbourhood play and exploration, the perception of diverse affordances that support their interests, and a safe, supportive, and interesting local environment. This initiative seeks to improve the 'playability' of local neighbourhoods to increase residents' awareness of opportunities that promote and facilitate healthy living in their own backyards. Activities within this initiative include outdoor greening projects, such as tree planting, and neighbourhood safety audits that address safety concerns that create barriers to outdoor play. Tools and resources have been created and are shared across the network to assist in both the sustainability of existing projects and the creation of new ones. 


Support Neighbourhood-Level, Resident-Driven Working Groups in CYN Priority Neighbourhoods

Building upon the successes of neighbourhood-led initiatives in Westminster and Medway, this initiative offers assistance to local residents who wish to champion culture change to reinforce healthy physical activity and healthy eating in their neighbourhoods. Activities within this initiative include:

  • Supporting the creation of new resident working groups.
  • Facilitating ongoing communication and building connections between working groups in different neighbourhoods.
  • Connecting residents with the resources and tools they need to implement their local projects.
  • Reviewing and assessing future models for neighbourhood working group development and sustainability.


Identify and Evaluate Local Community-Based Initiatives that Demonstrate Promising Practices Believed to Positively Impact Healthy Eating and Healthy Physical Activity Outcomes 

A number of initiatives planned by HEHPA partners are the focus of specific evaluation strategies designed to measure outcome and impact. The results are being used to:

  • To refine the initiatives in order to deepen our community impact. 
  • Encourage growth and increased support of promising practices.
  • Seek additional resources such as grants, funding, and sponsorships.

A working group has been convened to determine the need for new research projects that will be supported by CYN partners. 


Research and Reflection 

The success of the HEHPA priority requires staying in touch with ever-evolving and emerging research and promising practices in the complex fields of childhood obesity and collective impact. This initiative conducts local, national, and international research scans on best / promising practices and innovative project ideas to help guide the collective actions of the community. Literature scans take place every 3 years. Currently, partners are reflecting on findings from a scoping review to identify new issues and promising practices. In addition, partners have convened to identify the areas of research that are of interest to meeting the outcomes of the HEHPA priority. 



HEHPA Priority Partners Meetings 

September 23, 2021
Virtual Meeting-Zoom Platform

November 25, 2021
Virtual Meeting-Zoom Platform