Growing Healthy Bodies

Can The Moblees™ Move Canadian Children?

Investigating the Impact of a Television Program on Children's Physical Activity


The effects of messaging about physical activity and sedentary behavior purposefully integrated into children's TV programming on children's behavior is unknown. The Moblees is a Canadian childrens' show that explicitly promotes physical activity. Two studies were conducted to (1) examine whether children were more physically active when watching a Moblees episode, and (2) explore parental perceptions of the show.

Visit Frontiers in Public Health to read the article for free, or download the PDF

Nutrition Resource Centre Forum 2018: Registration & Call for Abstracts Open


Growing concerns about unhealthy eating habits, including consuming too many processed foods and beverages, and the lack of food literacy in children, youth and adults have inspired this year’s theme - Unpacking Food Literacy. Join the Nutrition Resource Centre at their 2018 forum as the latest research and tools are shared to help consumers make healthier food choices. 

At this event, you will learn:

  • how food literacy is defined and its components
  • the current state of food literacy and what programming is happening in Ontario and beyond
  • the latest research and strategies to impact and evaluate behavior change through food literacy programs, policies and interventions 

Don't miss out on this exciting opportunity to hear from and network with health professionals, service providers, educators, students, researchers, government decision makers and food literacy champions.

Preliminary program coming soon!

Check out their registration page if you're interested in attending here. Fees are outlined on the webpage and don't miss out on the early bird rates, which will run until Friday, August 31, 2018.

To see more information on how to submit an abstract, click here. The deadline for abstracts is Thursday, August 30, 2018.

If you've got any questions, feel free to contact

The 2018 ParticipACTION Report Card

Physical Activity for Children and Youth links brain health with regular physical activity

ParticipACTION released today its 2018 Report Card on Physical Activity for Children and Youth, which gave Canadian kids a score of D+ for Overall Physical Activity. This grade is particularly alarming considering that this year’s Report Card also highlights important connections between physical activity and kids’ brain health.

Only 35 per cent of 5- to 17-year-olds and 62 per cent of 3- to 4-year-olds are getting the recommended physical activity levels for their age group, the report card found, and may be having an impact on the health of their brains – kids may be less attentive, moody and not meeting their full potential both in and out of the classroom.

“For decades we’ve talked about how physical activity improves heart health, helps maintain healthy body weights, and builds strong bones and muscles in kids,” said Dr. Mark Tremblay, Chief Scientific Officer, ParticipACTION Report Card and Director of the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario Research Institute’s Healthy Active Living and Obesity Research Group (CHEO-HALO). “This year we wanted to dig deeper into what it does for their most complex organ – their brain. From increased cognitive skills to improved mental health, physical activity has profound impacts on kids’ brain health. Yet, we now know that many Canadian children and youth are missing out on these benefits because of a lack of physical activity. So, for their brains’ sake, it’s time to get kids sitting less and moving more.”

The 2018 ParticipACTION Report Card was released in concert for the first time with an evidence-informed Expert Statement on Physical Activity and Brain Health in Children and Youth. The Expert Statement was developed by a team of pediatric neuroscientists, exercise scientists, clinicians and practitioners. It finds that for better brain health – including cognition, brain function and mental health – all children and youth should be physically active on a regular basis.

“Regular physical activity, even in short bursts, can help kids’ brains on many levels,” said Dr. Tremblay. “Kids who are more active have increased self-esteem and are generally more focused and less stressed compared to their less active peers. For example, students who exercise before a test show stronger brain function than those who don’t. Furthermore, kids with brain-based disabilities, such as autism spectrum disorder or ADHD, may experience even greater improvements in learning and thinking as a result of regular physical activity.”

The lowest grades in this year’s Report Card are a D+ for Overall Physical Activity, D for Sedentary Behaviours and F for the 24-Hour Movement Behaviours. Despite common knowledge of the health benefits of kids moving more, turning away from screens, getting off the couch and breaking a sweat, most of them aren’t, but now they have another pressing reason to do so – for their brain health.

“In order to help support the development of strong, healthy brains we need to encourage kids to get enough daily heart-pumping physical activity,” said Elio Antunes, President and CEO, ParticipACTION. “Research shows that active kids perform better in school and are generally happier. We need to be active role models and set kids up to succeed. I understand that modern life can get in the way of making the time to get active, but I encourage all families to try. And, get outdoors more because it is a powerful antidote for kids facing stress.”

Other grades assigned in the Report Card include:

  • “D” for Active Play & Leisure Activities
  • “D-” for Active Transportation
  • “B” for Organized Sport Participation
  • “C-” for Physical Education
  • “B+” for Sleep
  • “D+” for Physical Literacy
  • “D” for Physical Fitness
  • “C+” for Family & Peers
  • “B-” for School
  • “B+” for Community & Environment
  • “C+” for Government

Recommendations on how to increase opportunities for physical activity and improve kids’ brain health, including those with brain-based disabilities, can be found within the Expert Statement.

To download the 2018 ParticipACTION Report Card Highlight Report, including the Expert Statement, or Full Report, please visit ParticipACTION.

2016 ParticipACTION Report Card

Canadian kids are inactive and may be losing sleep over it

ParticipACTION releases 2016 Report Card and for the first time, assigns a sleep grade. 

There are important relationships among sleep, physical activity and sedentary behaviour and new research shows that sedentary lifestyles are connected to a creeping ‘sleepidemic’ in Canadian children and youth. That is why, for the first time, the 2016 ParticipACTION Report Card on Physical Activity for Children and Youth assigns a grade to sleep and includes new Canadian 24-Hour Movement Guidelines for Children and Youth. A first of their kind in the world, the guidelines outline what a healthy 24-hour period looks like for children and youth.

Obese Children Do Not Need to Increase Their Physical Activity Any More than Their Lean Counterparts Do

Traversy Gregory Peter, Chaput Jean-Philippe. Obese Children Do Not Need to Increase Their Physical Activity Any More than Their Lean Counterparts Do. Frontiers in Pediatrics 2016:

Via the Healthy Active Living and Obesity Research Group, CHEO Research Institute

The relationship between child physical activity (PA) levels and obesity has been studied extensively (1, 2). Studies have often shown that obese children and adolescents spend more time in sedentary behavior and less time in non-sedentary behavior, such as moderate-to-vigorous physical activity (MVPA) (3, 4). Accordingly, at least one review of cross-sectional studies examining the link between PA and obesity has found higher levels of PA associated with lower measures of adiposity (2). Some individuals may interpret these suggestions as meaning that obese children need to increase their PA levels to attain a “healthy” weight. Despite the fact that PA generally produces very modest weight loss (randomized controlled trials typically show less than 2 kg of weight loss from exercise interventions), the perception exists, among laypeople and health professionals alike, that obese individuals are lazy and need to “get off the couch” and that a lack of exercise is an important cause of child obesity (57).

Is a lack of activity really driving the difference in body composition between normal weight and obese children? It has been suggested that although obese children may move less than normal weight children, they are likely expending just as much, if not more, energy from PA due to a higher metabolic cost of movement (they have a larger body to carry) (5). Additionally, PA levels are extremely low among normal weight and obese children alike, whereas PA remains important for overall physical and mental health (8). This suggests that PA needs to be promoted in all children regardless of weight status, and the view that obese children need to be more targeted for extra PA because of their weight is misleading. We intend to explore this suggestion further and suggest that although patterns of PA may differ between overweight/obese and normal weight children, these are not sufficient to explain differences in weight status. Alternative interpretations of the relationship between obesity and PA are also discussed.

Read the full article here.