Although traditional health care often focuses on care after someone is sick, healthy living – for example, eating well, exercising regularly, and not smoking – is one of the best ways to prevent health problems in the future.
We know that:
- eating healthy can help protect you from heart disease and stroke, and lower your risk of type 2 diabetes and some kinds of cancer
- people who are physically active are less likely to develop heart disease and other chronic health problems
- if you stop smoking, within 24 hours, your risk of heart attack starts to drop and within 5 years your risk of stroke is the same as someone who never smoked
Although we offer programs and supports to help people stay healthy, have introduced menu labelling to help people make informed and healthier food choices and are helping smokers quit, what new and creative ideas and technologies should we consider to help people stay healthy?
Who we're trying to help
While everyone can benefit from adopting healthy living, due to factors beyond their control there are groups in the province that may be more at risk for developing certain chronic diseases, such as, diabetes, cancer, heart disease and asthma. These groups include, people:
- living on low incomes
- in rural and remote communities
- with mental health and addiction concerns
- from certain racial backgrounds
We are looking for ideas that promote health for everyone and/or offer new ways of connecting with groups that have traditionally been hard to reach.
What we're doing/have done
We fund 36 Public Health Units (opens in a new window) across the province. They offer healthy living programs, mental health promotion and disease prevention information for members of their local communities.
In 2007, we launched the Smoke-Free Ontario Strategy (opens in a new window) which combines programs, policies, laws and public education to help:
- smokers quit
- protect people from exposure to second-hand smoke
- encourage young people to never start
Through the Healthy Kids Community Challenge (opens in a new window) we give money, training and social marketing tools to 45 communities across the province, to run programs about healthy eating and being active for kids and their families. This program reaches 40% of Ontario’s population including Indigenous populations served by six Aboriginal Health Access Centres and Community Health Centres.
We also offer free fruit and vegetables to elementary and middle school students in the districts of Algoma, Porcupine and Sudbury through the Northern Fruit and Vegetable Program. The program reaches over 190 schools and approximately 37,000 students every year.
We partner with the Ministry of Children and Youth Services to help pay for the Student Nutrition Program (opens in a new window), which helps provide nutritious meals and snacks in schools. During the 2015-16 school year, the program served nearly 900,000 children and youth.
We also introduced the Healthy Menu Choices Act (opens in a new window), which requires all food-service chains with 20 or more locations in Ontario, to post the number of calories in the food and drink items they sell.
Learn more about:
- how to make choices for a healthy life (opens in a new window), and government programs that can support you
- the government’s healthy living priorities from the Minister of Health and Long-Term Care’s mandate letter (opens in a new window)
- your cancer risk and how to develop a personalized action plan through My Cancer IQ (opens in a new window)
- #CycleON, the government’s 20-year strategy to promote cycling (opens in a new window)
- preventing heart disease through the Heart and Stroke Foundation (opens in a new window)
- healthy eating with Canada’s Food Guide (opens in a new window)
- the World Health Organization’s fact sheet on common risk factors for chronic disease (opens in a new window) (PDF)