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Business Leader Summer 2018
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Happy Healthy Families urges residents to eat well, be active

by Jena Docking

Are you a resident of north Wellington? Whether you are or not, perhaps you have heard of the great work being undertaken by Happy Healthy Families (HHF).

Happy Healthy Families is a social marketing campaign facilitated by a collaboration of community members, businesses and many stakeholders, including Family Health Teams, the Township of Wellington North and Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Public Health.

Raising awareness of the importance and impact that healthy eating, increased physical activity, reduced screen time and good sleep habits can have on our health, and our risk of chronic disease later in life, is the cornerstone of the project, in an effort to make north Wellington the healthiest place possible to raise a child.

The campaign launched with “Veggies and Fruit Every Day” and this has been the theme over the last year and one of the action items for HHF.

 In May 2016 at the Mount Forest Farmers’ Market, residents, including Mayor Andy Lennox, signed a banner pledging their support. A partnership quickly developed with the Mount Forest Foodland where a healthy check-out lane was launched, and a food skills workshop led by 22 students from Wellington Heights Secondary School for students at Victoria Cross Public School took place in November. The HHF have also made appearances at the Fergus Family Fair, International Plowing Match, Rural Romp, Doors Open, Fireworks Festival and Wellington North Showcase.

“Move and Play Every Day,” the focus for the upcoming year, has just launched. This action item is intended to promote physical activity and help families and children achieve 1 hour or more of daily physical activity to meet Canada’s Physical Activity Guidelines.  

Currently, only nine per cent of children between the ages of five to 17 get the recommended 60 minutes of heart pumping activity each day and billions of dollars are spent each year treating chronic disease such as diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease in adults, and increasingly seen in children, that may have been prevented.

Let’s take a closer look at the true cost of inactivity. It was estimated that sedentary behaviours cost the Canadian economy $6.8 billion in lost productivity, time off work and health care costs, but only 5% of our health care budget is allocated to preventing disease versus the huge investment in treatment of disease.

 The good news is physical activity can both treat and prevent disease and it should come as no surprise the staggering results that arise from physical activity.

Activity reduces rates of pain and disability of knee arthritis by 47%, reduces progression of dementia and Alzheimer’s by 50%, reduces progression of diabetes by 58%, reduces anxiety by 48%, reduces risk of hip fracture by 41%, reduces risk of depression by 47%, and lowers the risk of death by 23%. The list goes on and on ... better results than medication in most instances.

Now don’t get me wrong, starting to jog at age 65 can’t undo a lifetime of inactivity but it is a start! Yet, many of us don’t take these amazing results seriously. I find it fascinating that people can be on numerous medications to help control their chronic disease when exercise, just one thing - exercise - can prevent and treat many, if not all, chronic diseases.

So why do people find it so challenging to implement more physical activity ... we all have many reasons why but remember that motivation is very unlikely to land in your lap so make it part of your daily routine, book it into your schedule like walking your dog, picking up your kids or brushing your teeth.

No one wants a terrible health crisis to happen before we take action, but we are increasingly facing this exact dilemma. Already 20 million people globally die every year from preventable deaths including stroke, heart disease, lower respiratory infections and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Many of these people are aged 65 and younger.

My question to you is ... what can you do to shift from reactive to proactive to save millions of lives (potentially your own) and billions of unnecessary health care dollars?

If you are interested in learning more about or getting involved with HHF visit, call the Mount Forest Family Health Team at 519-323-0255 ext. 5085; like us on Facebook at or follow us on Instagram @happyhealthyfamilieswn.

For more information about any of the free services offered by the Minto-Mapleton Family Health Team, visit the website at, call the Drayton office at 519-638-2110, the Clifford office at 519-327-4777. Like the team on Facebook (Minto-Mapleton Family Health Team) and follow them on Twitter (@MintoMapleton) for healthy living tips and information on upcoming programs and events in the area.

Jena Docking, is a kinesiologist with the Upper Grand Family Health Team.


October 13, 2017


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