In 2012, in response to Nova Scotia facing epidemic levels of obesity, inactivity and unhealthy eating, the Government of Nova Scotia published Thrive! A plan for a healthier Nova Scotia. Aussi disponible en français.
The plan is built on a foundation of social policy. It outlines four priority areas to create environments to make it easier to eat well and be active.
The actions support four key directions: supporting a healthy start for children and families, equipping people with skills and knowledge for lifelong health, creating more opportunities to eat well and be active, and planning and building healthy communities.
Why we need Thrive!
Preventable disease is on the rise. By 2020, chronic conditions are projected to account for 75 per cent of all deaths worldwide, including many cases of heart and lung disease, cancer, and type 2 diabetes. This rise in disease is a response to dramatic changes in our physical and social environments over the past few decades.
Healthy living is often framed as an individual choice. But the choices we have are shaped by our environment — the options available in front of us where we live, work, learn, play and commute. Research suggests obesity is largely a “normal response, by normal people, to an abnormal environment.”
How healthy is your community?
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Although eating well and being active may seem like obvious priorities, our busy, time-pressed daily lives can make those choices difficult. In addition:
- We are surrounded by heavily marketed convenience foods that are often high in salt, fat and sugar.
- Our communities are built for cars; we drive where we used to walk or bicycle and children roam less freely.
- TVs, computers and smart phones have become a primary source of entertainment, replacing our need to move.
For all the convenience of modern life, staying healthy now often requires more effort, and it's harder for some Nova Scotians than others due to socioeconomic conditions.
How to Thrive!
Health begins with good public policy: policies that provide a living wage, affordable housing, access to quality child-care, income and employment supports and transition programs, affordable transportation, a solid public education system, as well as a strong economy. We also need policy directly aimed at creating healthy living environments. And it needs to transform them – from environments that enable unhealthy eating and sedentary time to those that increase healthy eating and physical activity.
Thrive! is about working together to shape the options in front of us – where we live, learn, work, commute and play – to make healthy living the norm in Nova Scotia. Not only to be happier and healthier today, but also to reduce the impacts of chronic disease in the future.