The subject this time? Childhood obesity.
Yesterday Leona Aglukkaq, Canada's Minister of Health, launched a national "Summit on Healthy Weights" geared to discuss childhood obesity.
Her opening statement includes these remarks,
"We're here because this public health challenge requires our collective commitment and action."So what's my problem? Those sure sound like important things, a call to action and a cross sectional representation of experts to help guide said action sound necessary.
"Today's Summit on Healthy Weights is another milestone that will move us forward in creating lasting change for children and their families. It represents a "first" in bringing together such a broad cross section of partners to address this issue."
Sure, except that we've said and done those things before, just 5 short years ago, and at taxpayers' expense.
Back in 2006 the House's Standing Committee on Health, over the course of eight months, heard hours and hours worth of testimony (including mine) which in turned helped to shape their March 2007 report Healthy Weights Healthy Kids.
How much expert testimony and consideration? By my count, over eight months the Committee heard 111 different experts representing 65 different public and private institutions which they then summarized in a formal 60 page report with 42 explicit recommendations.
Does anyone think that the science has change dramatically over the course of the past 5 years? Was 111 different experts too few? Why are we duplicating a 5 year old effort, and why are we paying for that effort's duplication?
At this point we desperately, desperately need action and sure maybe we need a Summit once we've gone ahead and implemented those first 42 recommendations (because there's no doubt, we're still going to be in a world of hurt even once/if we implement them all), but until then, do we really need to still be discussing where to start?
In terms of recommendations from Healthy Weights Healthy Kids, they were split over 13 subheadings and included:
- More research into childhood obesity
- More funding for advertising campaigns designed to educate about childhood obesity
- A call to implement the findings of the trans-fat task force
- Research on the special needs of first nations Canadians in the battle on obesity
- Improvement of nutrition labeling
- Better data collection for research
- The sharing of data with health professionals
- The identification of what will become the "lead agency" on childhood obesity in Canada
- The finding of means to reduce the costs of "nutritious" foods to the more remote parts of Canada
- The tracking of children's' involvements in sports
- Improvement of school health and fitness curricula
- New funding for improved infrastructure in schools for healthy fitness and food choices
- The evaluation of the efficacy of the ban against advertising to children in Quebec.
Of which to the best of my knowledge Health Canada has implemented a grand total of none.
So for those keeping score, it's breathtakingly hypocritical to talk of a need for a commitment to action when to date your office has been dedicated to explicit and deliberate inaction, and it's an outright lie to suggest that this summit is a first at bringing a broad spectrum of experts together to discuss childhood obesity.
Ultimately this is just more of the same from Aglukkaq and Health Canada - politicized inaction, hypocrisy and lies.
Anyone out there willing to wager that if recommendations actually come from the Summit, that they're not either rejected out of hand or simply brushed under the rug of time, cause I'm guessing that just like everything else that's come across her desk that might actually benefit the health of Canadians, Leona Aglukkaq's going to find some way to either avoid or ignore them.