Groundbreaking NYC public health pioneer prescribes remedy for Canada's
MONTREAL, Oct. 17, 2013 /CNW/ - Canada can save lives by implementing
powerful health promotion strategies, says Dr. Thomas Farley, the
trail-blazing commissioner of the New York City (NYC) department of
Dr. Farley, who will deliver the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada
Lecture at the Canadian Cardiovascular Congress today, led the
groundbreaking public policy initiatives in NYC.
Successes in NYC include one of the first laws to prohibit smoking in
public spaces in North America, a restaurant trans-fat ban, mandating
menu board calorie labelling, implementing healthy community design
initiatives that support physical activity and the introduction of
regulations - pending legal challenge - aiming to limit the serving
sizes of sugar-sweetened beverages.
His mission: to cement the path for citizens to live longer, healthy
lives by making healthy choices easier. He calls it 'healthscaping,'
creating an environment where good health blooms.
"Healthy environments open the door to healthy choices," says Heart and
Stroke Foundation president Bobbe Wood. "Adapting the NYC model in
Canada could help us make real strides in preventing and reducing our
rates of chronic disease. This is especially critical given the aging
of our population, high rates of obesity and the increase in the
consumption of processed foods."
Dr. Farley says it is well known what people can do to prevent heart
disease: get active; know and control cholesterol levels; follow a
healthy diet; know and control blood pressure; achieve and maintain a
healthy weight; manage diabetes; be tobacco free."
"The challenge is that these behaviours are influenced by the modern
environments where we live," says Dr. Farley. "The solution is to
change those environments to promote health by making healthy choices
He adds that no single measure alone will make the difference. "We need
a combination, a multi-pronged approach. The earlier we can intervene
and take steps to improve health, the more people who can reap the
benefits of a longer life expectancy and healthier lives."
Ways to do this, he says, are through initiatives that allow people to
be active, follow healthy diets, achieve and maintain healthy weights
and be tobacco free:
Design neighbourhoods where healthy foods are easily accessible and that
increase opportunities for physical activity
Reduce consumption of unhealthy foods
Create health-promotion laws and policies (e.g., smoke-free air policies
Make cigarettes less accessible and more expensive
Run hard-hitting media campaigns
The success of the sometimes controversial NYC health programs are well
Since the initiatives were introduced, deaths from heart disease
decreased by nearly 40 per cent (from 2002 to 2011)
Life expectancy increased faster in NYC than nationally. Between 2001
and 2010, the life expectancy of New Yorkers rose by 36 months to a
life expectancy of 80.9 years, while the national average rose by 21.6
months to 78.7 years
Obesity rates for children declined
NYC smoking rates went from a three year average of 21.7 per cent in
2002 to 14.8 per cent in 2011
There was a 21 per cent decline in the number of New Yorkers drinking
sugar-sweetened beverages between 2007 and 2012
"Population-based disease prevention is the most powerful and efficient
tool to improve and sustain the health of Canadians," says Wood. "The
Heart and Stroke Foundation shares the vision of improving the health
of our citizens through enlightened public policy. This is a proven
road map for longer, healthier lives."
The resulting impact on the health and lives of Canadians would be
immense: every seven minutes in Canada, someone dies of heart disease
or stroke; these are two of the three leading causes of death. They are
our leading cause of hospitalization accounting for 16.9 per cent of
total hospitalizations. And millions of Canadians are living with heart
disease or the effects of stroke.
The potential cost-savings to our economy are also substantial.
The impact of Canadians' risk factors on our economy
The risk factors
The health costs
85% of Canadians don't get enough physical activity
56 % eat fewer than five servings of fruit and vegetables a day
7 million diagnosed with high blood pressure
2.7 million have diabetes
60% are overweight or obese
Heart disease and stroke alone cost the Canadian economy $20.9 billion
every year in physician services, hospital costs, lost wages and
decreased productivity. In 2020 total costs are expected to reach to
"Communities that are designed to help shape healthy behaviours play an
important part in improving health and increasing life spans in
Canada," says Wood. "We should take a very close look at the potential
that public health strategies could have in reduced health care costs
and in improved health here in Canada."
She adds that such public health strategies could also accelerate the
progress of the Heart and Stroke Foundation's goal to reduce Canadians'
rate of death from heart disease and stroke by 25 per cent by 2020.
Canada's heart check-up from the Heart and Stroke Foundation:
Smoke-free spaces: Canada has 'gold standard' smoke-free legislation in public places and
workplaces at the federal, provincial and/or municipal level.
Smoke-free efforts should now focus on outdoor places (restaurant
patios, beaches, parks, outdoor sporting stadiums, etc).
Trans fat bans: In 2009 the federal government implemented a trans fat monitoring
mechanism over a two year period. This action, in combination with HSF
advocacy and public awareness efforts led to a 60 per cent reduction in
trans fat consumption in Canada. Canada remains above the WHO
recommended level. We believe federal regulations should be implemented
to get below the WHO target.
Calorie and sodium labelling on overhead menu boards: To date no jurisdiction has adopted the required
legislation/regulations, although the Ontario government is proposing
to do just that. The Heart and Stroke Foundation will join other
Canadian advocates calling for improved nutrition labeling in
restaurants, including calorie/sodium labeling on overhead menu boards
and more fulsome labeling in table menus.
Sugar-sweetened beverage taxation and portion size regulations: No Canadian jurisdiction has adopted taxes or regulations of this type.
The Foundation encourages Canadian municipalities to take action.
Community design: There has been growing momentum across Canada to invest in
health-promoting community infrastructure and related policies.
The Heat and Stroke Foundation calls on governments in Canada to:
Address the consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages, e.g., through
public awareness campaigns, tax policy, sales bans in schools and
recreational facilities and the elimination of super-sized servings in
Continue to implement outdoor smoke-free spaces
Consider improving nutrition labelling, including the development of
guidelines for nutrition logo labelling programs and improved calorie
and sodium labelling in restaurants
Improving policies, programs and funding infrastructure that can
facilitate healthy community design
Introducing restrictions on the marketing of unhealthy foods and
beverages to children
Provide architects and urban designers with strategies for creating
activity-promoting buildings, streets, urban spaces
HSF calls on Canadians to:
Make their health a priority
Talk to their health care provider about their risks and things they can
do to reduce personal risk
Adopt healthy behaviours: manage their diet, be physically active and
smoke free and avoid excessive alcohol consumption and stress
Advocate for healthy public policies so they and their families can
live, work and play in a healthy environment
Take the free Heart&Stroke Risk Assessment to get a personalized risk assessment and get tips and tools to lower
their risk, at makehealthlast.ca
The Canadian Cardiovascular Congress is co-hosted by the Heart and
Stroke Foundation and the Canadian Cardiovascular Society.
Statements and conclusions of study authors are solely those of the
study authors and do not necessarily reflect Vascular 2013 host
organizations' policy or position. They make no representation or
warranty as to their accuracy or reliability.
The Heart and Stroke Foundation's mission is to prevent disease, save lives and promote recovery. A
volunteer-based health charity, we strive to tangibly improve the
health of every Canadian family, every day. 'Healthy lives free of
heart disease and stroke. Together we will make it happen.' Heartandstroke.ca
Vascular 2013 is a unique, one-time Canadian event bringing four separate scientific
meetings together under one roof: the Canadian Cardiovascular Congress,
the Canadian Diabetes Association/Canadian Society of Endocrinology and
Metabolism Professional Conference, the Canadian Stroke Congress and
the Canadian Hypertension Congress. vascular2013.ca
It is a joint initiative of the Canadian Cardiovascular Society,
Canadian Diabetes Association/Canadian Society of Endocrinology and
Metabolism, the Canadian Stroke Network, the Heart and Stroke
Foundation, and Hypertension Canada.
SOURCE: Heart and Stroke Foundation
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After October 20, 2013 contact:
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