Promoting Healthy Lifestyles for Children in the Beaufort Delta Health and Social Services Authority: A community action

Area of Research: 
Health promotion


To develop an Inuit and Gwich'in culturally appropriate, peer-assisted, school program, adapted from the successful elementary-based healthy living Program Health Buddies©


The goal of this research is to strengthen community health and partnerships to address childhood obesity in Inuvialuit and Gwich'in populations through intake of healthy food, exercise, and self-esteem; to establish practice guidelines within the Beaufort Delta Health and Social Services Authority (BDHSSA) on the management and prevention of childhood obesity that focus on communities as well as the individual;  to develop an Inuit and Gwich'in culturally appropriate, peer-assisted, school program, adapted from the successful elementary-based healthy living Program Health Buddies© ; to investigate the success of the program with a research study, by adapting the existing research program “Brighter Smiles ” for the Inuit culture.

The researcher's approach will be a community-based participatory research (CBPR) process that adheres to the CIHR Guidelines for Health Research with Aboriginal Peoples and addresses OCAP (ownership, control, access, possession) processes. This approach ensures that the cultural knowledge of the people is acknowledged and incorporated. It is known that legitimizing community health issues requires stakeholder participation in the identification and planning of intervention programs. Therefore, it is necessary to establish strong relationships for work within the communities, including the schools, and share research results. CBPR acknowledges and includes different ways of knowing (and multiple perspectives), balancing scientific and traditional or cultural expressions of knowledge. It encourages information flow between the scientific and local communities in a mutual transfer and translation of knowledge. Community experts are recognized and enabled to contribute to research design and decision-making, and to effect meaningful community change; communities are engaged in all phases of the project, from conceptualization of the research question to dissemination of results. This approach ensures that the communities’ capacity to perform research is improved over time.

Through focus groups and discussions with relevant stakeholders, the Healthy Buddies™ curriculum will be modified to include lesson content that is culturally and environmentally specific for Northern Aboriginal people. In addition, the artwork, including photographs and graphic design will be replaced by art/photography/graphic design created by artists to reflect Northern culture, traditional foods and traditional ways of living (going out on the land). The modified Healthy Buddies Northern Aboriginal version will be implemented in schools in August 2010 and school-aged children in Grades 1-6 will be invited to participate in the evaluation of the Healthy Buddies curriculum component.

Children will have height and weight performed with which to calculate a body mass index [weight/(height)2] that is standardized for their age and sex. Blood pressure, heart rate, and waist and hip circumference will also be measured. As a measure of fitness, each child will complete a shuttle run. A 20 m shuttle run is a validated test that measures aerobic capacity by running forth and back for 20 m, with an initial running pace of 8.0 km/h and a progressive 0.5 km/min raise of the running speed given by a sound. The maximal performance is reached when the child does not cross the 20 m line at the moment of the beep for two consecutive 20 m distances. The children will also fill out the following validated questionnaires: physical activity questionnaire for children (PAQ-C), food frequency questionnaire (with a focus on fruit and vegetable intake and sugar-sweetened beverage consumption) and a Healthy Buddies™ questionnaire (health literacy/knowledge, self-esteem, healthy behaviours).

Measures will be performed at baseline and school year end by members of each community trained by the research team. Analysis: Students will serve as their own historical controls. Baseline data will be compared to endpoint data with-in schools and between schools.  Teachers/school personnel will also have the opportunity to provide quarterly feedback through questionnaires on the lesson plans.

A report will be sent to all participants in the study. In addition, the Beaufort Delta Educational Council will have the results of the study, in addition to the program being implemented in the participating schools. The results will also be disseminated through publications and conferences.

The fieldwork for this study was conducted from September 1st to December 31st, 2010.

View on the Aurora Research Institute Database.