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The Potential for Reducing the Prevalence of Overweight and Obese Children in Canada Using the EPODE Methodology

      The prevalence of childhood obesity remains a public health problem in Canada with 1 in 3 children being classified as either obese (11.7%) or overweight (19.8%). Childhood obesity increases the risk of developing diabetes, cancer and cardiovascular disease later in life and may represent the single biggest impact on costs to our healthcare system in Canada. Ensemble Prévenons l’Obésité Des Enfants (EPODE) is a coordinated, capacity-building approach for communities to reduce the prevalence of childhood obesity. EPODE communities such as the Fleurbaix–Laventie Ville Santé study and VIASANO in Belgium observed a 10% and 22% reduction in the prevalence of overweight and obesity in children respectively. The EPODE methodology, based on 4 pillars: (1) multi-stakeholder, (2) public-private partnership (PPP), (3) science-based evaluation and (4) social marketing, is both replicable and adaptable to the local environment. To date, the EPODE methodology has been adapted in 27 countries and if widely adopted in Canada could significantly reduce the prevalence of childhood obesity and therefore reduce the economic impact on the healthcare system. Given Canada’s diverse demographic landscape, the implementation of a nation-wide program would pose many challenges. In 2006, however, the yearly cost of obesity in Canada was estimated at $7.1 billion, clearly demonstrating the importance of addressing these challenges. The purpose of our research is to identify barriers to the adoption of EPODE in Canada and to calculate the potential savings to the healthcare system and economy if the EPODE.
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