THEPA : Description

Project title Individually- and Environmentally-Targeted Interventions to Improve Healthy Eating and Physical Activity in Canadian Cities


Project description


The burden of cardiovascular disease, cancer and mental health issues in Canada could be reduced by implementing large-scale prevention interventions aimed at improving healthy eating and physical activity. Over the past few years, a consensus has emerged in the scientific community and among health professionals on the need to implement health promotion programs aimed at changing self-regulation processes in individuals AND transforming built and social environments. Implementing programs could have a cumulative impact on the population if enough individuals register for and complete the programs. Changes to the built environment could be made if they are acceptable to the population. This project proposes to conduct surveys of adults aged 18 and over living in Canada’s 21 biggest cities. The survey will look at individually-targeted interventions and acceptability of environmental transformations.




The project aims at producing the evidence-based data needed to implement health promotion and prevention programs and public policies to foster healthy eating and physical activity. The objectives are as follows:


1. Respondents will be asked about the reach of methods to change behaviours and the acceptability of transformations to built and social environments.

2. Examine associations of potential reach and acceptability with health status, socioeconomic status and geographic characteristics. 

3. Better understand the reasons why populations who don’t adopt recommendations related to healthy lifestyle habits are unlikely to take part in personal self-regulatory programs and not in favour of policies designed to change build and social environments.





A polling firm will recruit a representative sample of 27,000 residents aged 18 and over living in Canada’s 21 biggest cities. They will be asked to take part in an online survey composed of three sections. The questions will focus on self-reported cardiovascular health, eating and physical activity habits, interest in and support for individual interventions (for example, counselling program delivered by a health professional) or for environmental interventions (for example, taxing sugary drinks, zoning regulations to limit new fast-food restaurants, promotion of low-cost fruit and vegetables, setting up of community gardens). Respondents will also be asked about their use of various behaviour changing techniques related to adoption of healthy lifestyle habits, and for information such as income, education level and postal code.

Data collected will be linked to a geographic information system in which various food stores, corner stores, restaurants and fast-food restaurants have already been geocoded. This will allow us to examine associations between potential reach/ acceptability and  accessibility of services and amenities from survey participants’ homes, for example.





Overall, the outcomes of this research project will enhance understanding of people’s views of the promotion of health lifestyles and of where to mobilize communities about issues that require collective action, and where it is possible to implement interventions that are acceptable to the population. In other words, results combined with spacial mapping will provide useful information about actions to prioritize and outcome evaluation of those actions.


Funding organization: Canadian Institutes of Health Research