Addressing Healthier Living Conditions in your Community

Contents

I A Preventable Disease in Ontario
II Healthier Living is Key to Healthier Ontarians
III Addressing Healthier Living Conditions through Collective Action
IV Why these Messages?
V How to Use the Supporting Documents

-- Submitted by Hoi Ki Ding and Nousheen Kanji

I A Preventable Disease in Ontario

Chronic diseases lead to many adverse health effects such as disability, early death, and negative impacts on the economy.  Currently, one in three Ontarians suffers from chronic diseases such as cancer, cardiovascular disease, stroke and diabetes. Much of this can be prevented by leading a more balanced lifestyle such as eating healthy, exercising regularly, having a positive mind, avoiding excess alcohol drinking, and not smoking.

II Healthier Living is Key to Healthier Ontarians

There are many factors that work together to affect the health of individuals and their communities. A person’s health is dependent on their circumstances, such as income and education level, as well as their environment, including relationships with friends and family, and personal living conditions. Hence, it is important to address these factors as part of a comprehensive approach to chronic disease prevention.
Having access to healthy living conditions affects the overall health of an individual. If healthy choices are not available, then their access is also limited. Healthy living conditions must be available and accessible to everyone within a community in order to achieve overall good health. It is important to note that unhealthy living conditions also impact health, and therefore must be limited in both availability and accessibility in order to make the healthy choice the easier choice.

In order to lead healthier living, healthy public policies must be implemented to support a healthy environment, and thus, healthier communities.

III Addressing Healthier Living Conditions through Collective Action

The Ontario Chronic Disease Prevention Alliance (OCDPA), together with field experts, has developed a set of evidence-informed messages that focus on actions related to common priorities in chronic disease prevention.  These messages are framed around the central themes of “availability and accessibility”, and address:

  • High-risk alcohol consumption
  • Physical inactivity
  • Poor mental health
  • Tobacco use/exposure
  • Unhealthy eating

Each of these messages relate to actions that can be taken as part of a comprehensive approach to support healthier living conditions, and also to make choosing healthy choices easier for Ontarians.

Backgrounders are now available on the OCDPA website, www.ocdpa.on.ca/rpt_evidence_messages.htm, to support the use of evidence-informed messages.  Each package includes:

  • A context and benefits section to promote the use of evidence-informed messages
  • A brief overview section that provides general information on the chronic disease risk factor and encourages action on the risk factor
  • The evidence-informed messages and their summaries of evidence to raise awareness of the issues and to encourage the incorporation in individual/organizational work and activities
  • A reference section to provide full citation for further information.

Please note that the backgrounders are NOT meant to be:

  • A summary of the state of the evidence
  • An extensive literature review of evidence behind each message
  • Peer reviewed research articles
  • “Making the case” documents.

IV Why these Messages?

OCDPA’s evidence-informed messages were developed with members and stakeholders to focus action on common chronic disease prevention issues. There are many advantages to giving credible and consistent evidence-informed messages, such as:

  • More focused and coordinated activities in advancing healthy public policy
  • Strategic alignment of policy, planning, and practice to support chronic disease prevention efforts
  • Greater impact of chronic disease prevention efforts from delivering frequent, consistent messages through multiple channels
  • A comprehensive, system-wide approach to chronic disease prevention.

V How to Use the Supporting Documents

OCDPA’s evidence-informed messages and supporting documents are made available on the website for broad promotion and dissemination. Individuals and organizations are welcome to download, print, and incorporate content materials in their work and activities, as appropriate.

The messages and supporting documents can be used in a variety of ways.  Here are some ideas:

  • The context and benefits section can be used to promote a comprehensive approach to chronic disease prevention.
  • The background section on risk factors and chronic disease can be printed and distributed at conferences, meetings and workshops for awareness and education purposes.
  • The messages and their supporting evidence can be used in communication vehicles (e.g. briefing notes, newsletters, presentations, etc.)
  • The evidence section can be used as training materials on issues related to the chronic disease risk factors.
  • The messages and supporting documents will complement and support the implementation of the Ontario Public Health Standards.

The Ontario Chronic Disease Prevention Alliance (OCDPA) is a collaborative of over 30 organizations working together to support effective policy and programming on chronic disease prevention.  

For more information about the OCDPA, please visit http://www.ocdpa.on.ca.