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Newsletter. Issue 2004-04. February. 21, 2004
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Health & Wellness

New National Network Supports Canadians Dealing with Death and Dying
TORONTO, Feb. 6 /CNW/ - Canadians have a new source of information and support about death and dying with today's launch of the Canadian Virtual Hospice at www.virtualhospice.ca .
The new bilingual website, launched at a news conference at Riverview Health Centre in Winnipeg this morning, provides high quality health information about death and dying, as well as a forum for Canadians to share their experiences with illness or grief.
"People often don't know what to expect when they learn that they have been diagnosed with a life-limiting illness. They may feel confused, fearful, and uncertain about what lies ahead. If ever they needed information and support, it's at this stressful time in their lives," said Dr. Harvey Chochinov, Canada Research Chair in Palliative Care; Director, Manitoba
Palliative Care Research Unit, CancerCare Manitoba; and, co-chair of the Canadian Virtual Hospice. "Unfortunately, in our society, matters of death and dying are very often thought to be unspeakable. I hope that the Canadian Virtual Hospice will help patients and families feel more supported and less alone."
Targeted at patients, their family and friends, health care professionals, and health care volunteers, the Canadian Virtual Hospice is a unique venue for the sharing of credible information and support, eliminating barriers of time and place through the use of the Internet to improve palliative care in Canada.
"The goal of palliative care is to provide comfort and maintain the highest possible quality of life for as long as life remains," said the Honourable Dr. Rey Pagtakhan, Minister for Western Economic Diversification.
"The Canadian Virtual Hospice will help people to cope with the pain, distress and many other physical, emotional and spiritual problems that are present with a terminal illness. The Government of Canada is proud to support this important initiative and to build on the Canadian End-of-Life-Care strategy."
"This innovative approach to palliative care will enhance the living of both the patient and their families. Living well until the end is the goal of palliative care. The Canadian Virtual Hospice will make that living easier," said the Honourable Sharon Carstairs, P.C., former Minister with Special Responsibility for Palliative Care.
The Canadian Virtual Hospice provides detailed information about physical symptoms of illness and deals with some of the emotional reactions and spiritual questions often experienced by palliative care patients and their families. The website includes chat rooms, bulletin board discussion areas, and a place for people to email questions to a health care professional.
Health care professionals working in the field of palliative care will have the opportunity to share research results and benefit from access to expert opinion from Canadian colleagues.
    "This new website will help provide individuals, their families, trained volunteers and health care providers with emotional and spiritual support and practical help for coping with terminal illnesses and grief," said Diane McGifford, minister for Advanced Education and MLA for Lord Roberts. "Manitoba Health is proud to sponsor an initiative that will help so many people."

How to Avoid "Taxing" Headaches with T4s
"Knowing what information is included - and possibly missing - on your T4 statement is crucial," says ADP payroll expert
TORONTO, Feb. 16 /CNW/ - Approximately three in four working Canadians have now received their annual T4 statement, setting Canada's annual tax season in motion. According to ADP Canada, the country's leader in outsourced employer services (including payroll and T4 preparation), Canadians who don't bother to check their T4 statement do so at their peril.
"It's important for every employee to understand and check the information on their T4," said Don McGuire, Vice President Client Services, ADP Canada. "Errors in basic items such as your name, address and social insurance number, or differences that you can't reconcile with the year-to- date totals on your final pay stub in 2003 could signal a problem that needs to be corrected."
Errors and discrepancies on T4s can mean late filings and delays in getting a tax return or paying taxes on time. While tax season is an annual headache for some employers, for the 35,000 employers that use ADP Canada for T4 preparation, it's business as usual. ADP has processed more than three million T4s this year, or roughly one in four T4s in the private sector.
Interview an expert from ADP and find out:
- What are the common mistakes or oversights Canadians make when reading their T4?
- What should people do if their T4 contains errors? Or if they don't get a T4?
- How has the T4 changed this year?
- How can employers make life easier on themselves during tax time?
- When should an employer begin preparing for year-end?

About your house
OTTAWA, Feb. 19 /CNW/ - The attached information items, dealing with winter emergencies, will interest homeowners in your area. They are part of a series of information pieces available on the CMHC web site. (www.cmhc.gc.ca)
Please feel free to use any or all of the pieces you think would be of use and or interest.
About Your House CE 24
Backup Power For Your Home
You rely on many appliances and systems in your home for your health, comfort and security. Most depend completely on utility-supplied electricity.
It makes sense to have a backup system that will keep your family comfortable and your home safe in a power failure. These Top Ten Tips are a brief guide to backup systems. Six basic types of backup systems are described in Table 1.

  1. Plan
    Careful preparation is essential to select, buy and install a backup system. Don't leave it to the last minute - you and your family have to learn how to use the system. And during a power failure, you may not be able to find suitable, reasonably priced equipment, or have it installed properly. Keep the system simple so you and your family can operate and maintain it. Your
    emergency system must work reliably when needed.
  2. Keep the Heat In
    In most of Canada, the main purpose of a backup system is to keep the house warm (and sometimes to keep the basement dry). You have to be able to keep heat in, prevent unnecessary air infiltration, and prevent pipes from freezing. The starting point is proper insulation and air sealing, before you consider your backup power needs. To obtain information on energy efficiency contact: Energy Publications Office of Energy Efficiency c/o Canada Communication Group Ottawa ON K1A 0S9
  3. Change to Efficient Appliances
    Your backup system will do the most good if it is powering efficient appliances. Use an electrician's ammeter to find out how much power each appliance uses - its current draw in amps. The energy requirements of some appliances will surprise you. Replace the inefficient appliances with efficient appliances. Change to energy-efficient light bulbs like compact fluorescents. When buying new equipment, get the most efficient possible - for
    example, an energy-efficient refrigerator or a lower-volume, smaller horsepower well pump or sump pump. Make sure your furnace fan motor is the most efficient available. When you use a backup system you must manage your electrical load. You will have to operate even your most efficient appliances as little as possible so that you have essential power as long as possible.
  4. If Your House Is All-Electric
    Don't use a backup generator to heat your house if it is all-electric, or to power resistance heaters, such as baseboards and fan heaters (a very poor choice - only 20 per cent efficiency). Install a wood, oil, natural gas, or propane stove that uses a chimney. Or install a pellet, oil, natural gas or propane stove that vents through the wall. Fan-assisted air circulation makes auxiliary heating devices more effective. You may need backup power for a fan, stove motors and pumps. You must install a hearth and chimney for a wood stove, and have a supply of dry wood. You will need backup power for a pellet stove - but a pellet stove uses a less-costly through-the-wall chimney. Propane, natural gas heaters and oil heaters use through-the-wall chimneys,
    and need a reliable fuel source. Check delivery with your local fuel supplier Some oil-fired furnaces and space heaters can provide both hot water and space heat. Some of these appliances are suitable for cooking and keeping food warm.
    Most fireplaces are not very effective. They may heat you and one room. But they suck air from other rooms and actually cool the rest of the house. Many fireplaces are not built for continuous use, or are in poor condition, and can be a real fire hazard.
  5. Decide What Needs Power
    Your backup must provide power for the circuits you depend on for comfort, safety and security. Decide what you must keep running in the event of a power outage. You may find you don't need an elaborate backup. If you only need your sump pump, a small gasoline-powered pump could be simpler and cheaper than a full backup system. Critical loads are the essential loads.
    They might include lights, refrigerator-freezer, microwave, sump pump, furnace, well pump, garage door opener, and the home office. Your backup power system's capacity is the maximum power draw (in kilowatts) of all the fixtures and appliances that have to be served at one time, including higher startup loads. Remember: ventilation and fresh air supply can also be important loads.
    To determine the size of your backup power system:
    - Identify the critical loads that you really need, and check whether they can be safely served by alternatives that don't require electricity. For example, a properly vented stove fuelled by wood, oil, or gas could substitute for your furnace.
    - Total the wattage of the lights and appliances on the circuits you'd like to power
    - Check the labels or owner's manuals for each appliance's rating
    - Add about 25 per cent as a reserve for the startup power needed for most electrical devices. This may not be enough for some furnaces and well pumps. Motor startups can draw as much as three to five times more power, especially from cold - making a 2,500- watt generator borderline for starting an 800 watt furnace motor (ask about "slow start" motor ] options that draw less startup current.) The total will probably be between 1,500 and 5,000 watts. However a basic system for efficient lights and a radio will require much less, say 100-300 watts.
  6. Choose a Backup System
    Some of the systems (see Backup Power Systems table) include battery storage and a battery charger and an inverter. The inverter converts 12 volt DC battery power to standard 110 or 220 volt AC power. These systems can also recharge the batteries using solar panels, a generator and your vehicle, or your vehicle alone (but remember that unless you have an RV your car battery is not a deep cycle type and should not be allowed to go flat). The more expensive systems can power an entire, energy-efficient house
  7. Hire an Electrician
    An electrician or electrical-contractor should install and prepare your backup system to make sure it is safe for your family and your home. You will need a manual transfer switch to send electricity from either the municipal power supply or your backup to the vital circuits. The switches cost from $100 to $230. Some residential uninterruptible power systems are pre-assembled on wall mounting boards, with all the necessary safety disconnects and code- approved wiring already done. More sophisticated inverter power panels that automatically flip the transfer switch and start the backup can cost $3,000 just for the panel with the breakers and an inverter. It is a good idea for an electrician to check wiring and grounding, and determine if you need spike protection. In rural areas, voltage fluctuations and even over-voltages that can damage sensitive equipment are not uncommon. Never connect a backup power system without a transfer switch that disconnects your home from the municipal power supply. This is to protect electric utility crews working on your lines.
  8. Don't Use Unvented Appliances Indoors
    Don't use unvented combustion appliances, such as barbecues, cook stoves, fondues, propane or kerosene heaters and lamps inside your house. They burn up available oxygen. They produce CO2 (carbon dioxide) and other combustion gases and fumes. Some produce huge quantities of colourless, odourless and deadly carbon monoxide. Sterno cookers, fondues, and charcoal-burning devices are especially dangerous. Never use them indoors. Room ventilation won't get rid of fumes from unvented appliances. Never use them inside your house. Use portable propane or naphtha cookstoves, heaters and lamps outside only.
    There is a very real risk of fire, explosion, asphyxiation or poisoning from fumes.
  9. Install Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarms
    Install battery-powered smoke alarms and carbon monoxide alarms. They are inexpensive and reliable and they can save your life. Do you have spare batteries?
  10. Test Your System Regularly
    Regularly test your backup system to make sure it can start your critical loads and keep them running. Remember to disconnect your main breaker before starting your backup system, or you can use an auxiliary circuit panel.
    Auxiliary panels for backup power prevent electrical utility field crews from being electrocuted by your home power systems. They should be activated by a transfer switch and wired by an electrician. Note that modern inverters can make it possible to use variable speed DC generators which charge batteries directly and use half as much fuel as a constant-speed AC generator. They can produce very high quality AC power, which is crucial for sensitive electronic controls, provided that the inverter is manufactured by an established company and produces sine wave or modified sine wave outputs. To protect sensitive equipment, such as computers, from power surges generator owners should run
    these loads with a pure sine wave inverter instead of directly through the generator. If you are counting on your generator or inverter to power critical house systems during a power failure, test beforehand to make sure that the quantity and quality of power produced will handle the appliances you need to run
Generator Maintenance Tips   (typical 5,000 watt gasoline engine).
These instructions are for maintenance of a modern 3,000 to 5,000 watt, air-cooled, gasoline engine generator for residential service. Most points, however, apply to all generators.    Remember: gasoline and diesel fuels require special care for proper and safe storage so they don't become unusable because gums and gels form or they are contaminated by water and dirt. Special additives can prevent these problems.
Warnings and Cautions
    Is your generator wiring safely insulated AND properly grounded?
    - Disconnect main breaker (and non-critical circuits) before starting generator.
    - Connect auxiliary breaker panel to generator output. Observe correct polarity.
    - Never refuel engine while it is running. Fire Hazard!
    - Once you have started your generator, do not start all your appliances at once. Turn them on one at a time. Avoid using the biggest loads simultaneously.
    - Most generators are not designed to work inside your home. They should be placed outside, but protected from the weather to avoid carburetor or breather icing.
    - A generator should not be left running without someone nearby to supervise. It may overheat and cause a fire. Always have a fire extinguisher nearby.
    - If your generator causes a fire, your fire insurance may not pay if your generator was not CSA approved or was not installed by a master electrician.
    After First Five Hours
    - Change oil. Use 10W30 motor oil or 5W30. Use synthetic oil to prolong engine life and ease starting in cold weather.
    After Every 50 hours
    - Change oil.
    After Four Months
    - Start engine and run for 15 to 20 minutes with electrical load to maintain engine and generator.
    Annual-Fall is Best
    - Start engine and run with electrical load until it runs out of fuel-  this can take all day.
    - Refuel with fresh fuel (regular unleaded).
    - Clean and lubricate battery terminals with wire brush and petroleum jelly if there is corrosion.
    - Inspect air and fuel filters and fuel shutoff for cleanliness.
    Every Five Years
    - Replace battery, air filter, fuel filter.
    - Replace fuel lines if deteriorated.
    General
    - Check oil level with every tank of fuel used.
    - Use a fuel stabiliser for fuel storage of up to one year.
    - If not using fuel stabiliser, do not store or use fuel more than one
      month old (stale gasoline is not a dependable fuel).
    - Keep generator fuel tank full to reduce condensation in tank.
    - Keep a spare spark plug and wrench nearby.
    - Have the generator tuned if it has been used extensively or runs poorly.
    About Your House CE 11
    When You Must Leave Your House Due to a Prolonged Winter Power Outage
The 1998 Ice Storm caused extensive damage throughout eastern Canada.
Homeowners who lost electric power and had to leave their homes were particularly hard hit.
If you must leave your home for more than 24 hours because of power failure, here are some simple things to do to prevent house damage.
    Water
    - Turn off water supply at water service entrance (the valve is generally located at the front of the house, near basement floor).
    - Open all taps and let them drain. Flush the toilet to drain the tank. If you get your water from a well, drain pumps and expansion tanks. If you have to leave for a long period and freezing is certain, pour non- toxic antifreeze (cottage or recreational vehicle antifreeze, or  windshield washer) in all traps (toilets, sinks, washing machines, showers). Unhook washing machine hoses and drain. Leave all taps open while you are gone.
    - If the temperature inside your house will remain below freezing point for a long time, drain the hot water tank and turn off the power. For electric hot water tanks, turn off the power at the breaker. For gas hot water tanks, turn the gas valve to "OFF".
    - If the weather is not too cold, or if you are checking the house regularly, the hot water tank may survive without draining. In this case, turn off the power to the hot water tank at the breaker or fuse box, or turn the gas valve to "PILOT".
    - If your house is equipped with a sump pump to protect it from ground water, it will not work without electric power. Move valuables off the basement floor in case there is flooding. CMHC's booklet "Cleaning Up Your House After A Flood" contains useful information. You can obtain it from your local CMHC office or by calling 1 800 668-2642.
      Electricity and power
      - Shut off power to house at breaker box.
      - Shut power off at the breaker to the water heater, furnace, water pump (if you have one) and sump pump.
      - Make sure that stoves, ovens, washing machines, and portable space heaters are turned off at the switch.
      - Close gas valves, if you have natural gas or propane.
      - Unplug major appliances so that they do not start up cold when power is restored.
        More Tips
  • For prolonged departures, pile snow, straw, or other insulating material around the basement walls to prevent soil freezing next to  the foundation. Close the door to the basement to keep heat in.
  • Empty refrigerators and freezers. If possible, do not keep surplus food. Wedge freezer and refrigerator doors open to prevent mold growth. Ensure that the devices used to hold the doors open cannot trap a child inside.
  • Notify municipal authorities - police, fire, hydro - that you are leaving the house.
  • Do not turn on the house water until indoor air returns to near normal temperature-in the 20 degree C range.
  • Close all open taps, close hot water tank drain, reconnect washing machine hoses and drain.
  • Turn on water at water service entrance.
  • Ensure that hot water taps are running and that the hot water tank is full before turning it on. Electric hot water tanks can be turned on at the breaker. If you are unfamiliar with the operation of your gas hot water tank, call a service person to restore gas to the tank.
  • Turn on the tap which is on the highest level in the house until water is flowing, to bleed air out of the system. Ensure that drains are not clogged with ice or cracked by freezing. Run other taps until water is flowing. Check for leakage from pipes where possible. If you find leaks, turn off the water supply to the leaky pipe or turn off water at the service entrance until leaks are repaired.
  • Check sump and sump pipes for freezing before starting the sump pump.

Electricity and power

  • Do not start major appliances until the house has returned to near normal temperature.
  • Ensure that stoves, ovens, washing machines, and portable space heaters are turned off at the switch.
  • Turn on power to the house breaker box.
  • Turn power on to individual appliances (including refrigerators and freezers) when they are warmed up.
Wood Heat Safety in an Emergency
This information is provided to help people use wood safely as an emergency heating fuel.

As most home heating systems need electricity to work, loss of power to a house can create a heating emergency. Many householders use their wood burning stoves and fireplaces to heat their homes during such an emergency.
A properly installed and operated wood stove or heating fireplace can be a safe and secure way to heat a home. But the use of wet wood, the use of make-shift, temporary wood stove installations, and the continuous use of decorative fireplaces increase the risk of a house fire. If it is possible, get professional help from a qualified chimney installer, a chimney sweep, or ask your local fire department for advice.

Getting the Best Out of Wet Wood
    You may be forced to use wet wood, which is hard to light, slow to burn, and provides much less heat than dry wood. Here's how to make the best of an emergency situation.

  •   as small pieces heat up and ignite faster than large pieces, split the wood into pieces about 75 mm (3") in diameter;
  • brush snow and ice off the wood and bring it into the house -- and be sure not to store it too close to the stove;
  • burn small, bright fires, using no more than five small sticks at a time;
  • if you have some dry wood, mix it with the wet wood;
  • never load up the stove or fireplace and let it smoulder

    Tips for Safe Operation
  • if you have a battery-operated smoke detector, make sure that it works. If you don't have one, try to install one;
  • check materials around the stove or fireplace and all exposed parts of the chimney, including in the attic, for signs of overheating. Wood starts to darken as it overheats;
  • make sure all flue pipe joints are fastened with no fewer than three sheet metal screws;
  • burn small, bright fires to make the most effective use of the fuel,while avoiding the overheating that results from burning large, intense fires;
  • don't try to heat the whole house; concentrate all your activities in the room where the heater is and let the rest go cold; drain down your water pipes and pumps;
  • shovel ashes into a metal container, take it outside immediately and empty it in the yard away from trees and shrubs; never put a bucket full of ashes in the basement or on a wooden porch floor, and never put ashes in a wood or cardboard box;
  • if the stove continues to smoke, open a nearby window;
  • if you can't keep the unit from smoking, stop using it because you and your family could suffer carbon monoxide poisoning;
  • if you are using a wood burning furnace, remove the blower compartment door and open the basement door; burn small, controlled fires.
       
    Temporary Wood Stove Installations can be Hazardous
    By far the most dangerous wood stove installations are those done in a make-shift way by untrained people. While installing a wood stove may seem a simple matter, a safe installation calls for a lot of specialized knowledge.
    A wood stove must have a proper brick or metal chimney -- never try to vent a wood stove out a window using single-wall flue pipes. Make sure the inside of the chimney flue is clear and smooth.
    The flue pipes that connect the stove to the chimney are often the weak link. Every joint in the flue pipe assembly MUST be fastened with three sheet metal screws to prevent it from falling down as it heats. Flue pipes need at least 450 mm (18") of clearance from combustible materials like wood furniture and drywall. The stove should be located a least 25cm (48") from combustible materials. Most important, get professional help:
    • in Quebec, contract with a licensed installer or accredited chimney sweep; Association des Professionnels Chauffage (APC) is the licensing and accreditation agency; the full list of licensed installers and sweeps can be found in the APC magazine Plein Feu, which is on news- stands in Quebec now;
    • in other provinces, contract with a Wood Energy Technical Training (WETT) certified installer or chimney sweep;
    • or have your local fire department check your installation.
      Look in the Yellow Pages for hearth dealers and chimney sweeps nearest you, or call the numbers at the end of this message to get more information. If you cannot get professional help, don't take any chances. It would be better to have to leave your home than to risk the safety of your family and others staying with you.
          Be Careful with Decorative Fireplaces
          The fireplaces in most homes are designed for fire viewing, not for serious heating. The continuous use of such fireplaces can be dangerous, particularly if large fires are burned. Since decorative fireplaces do not capture much of the fire's heat, it is usually better to leave the glass doors open to gain the direct radiant heat from the fire. The tempered glass in many of these fireplaces block this direct radiation.
          To help avoid smoke spillage, bum one sheet of newspaper first to preheat the chimney. Build small, brightly flaming fires to gain the most direct radiation, without overheating the fireplace structure. To reduce the amount of warm air drawn out of the house into the fireplace, close the throat damper until the unit begins to spill smoke, then open it until the smoke stops. Never leave the unit unattended.
          Put your Well Being First
          Use your stove or fireplace safely. Don't risk your family's safety trying to save your water pipes. Move to a warm shelter until you can provide adequate heat.
          Related Publications
          A Guide to Residential Wood Heating (NHA 5178) Wood Heating Video
    For further information: Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation Information - (613) 748-2367 or 1- 800-668-2642 (option 2);
    The Hearth
    Products Association of Canada - (416) 626- 6568;
    Association des
    Professionnels Chauffage - (514) 270-4944;
    Wood Energy Technical Training -
    1-888-358-9388

Heart and Stroke Foundation warns fat is the new tobacco
TORONTO, Feb. 10 /CNW/ - According to the Heart and Stroke Foundation's Annual Report Card on Canadians' Health, the increasing number of overweight and obese Canadians now poses one of the greatest threats ever to public health in this country.
"The prevalence of this serious health risk is almost exactly what we faced with tobacco use 30 years ago - when half of Canadians smoked," says Dr. Anthony Graham, Heart and Stroke Foundation spokesperson and cardiologist. Since that time, smoking rates have dropped by half - but during those same three decades, we've been losing ground in the area of overweight and obesity.
Heart and Stroke Foundation Report Card on Canadians' Health Overweight and Smoking

Rates among Canadian adults:  Early  1970s 2000/01     % Change
Smoking (Aged 15+)       47%     22%   53% decrease
Overweight (BMI greater than or equal to 25; Aged 20-64)  40% 47%   18% increase
Obese (BMI greater than or equal to 30; Aged 20-64)          10%    15%     50% increase

Obesity (defined as a Body Mass Index or BMI greater than or equal to 30) can increase a person's risk of developing heart disease or stroke by 50%.
"We continue to face the impact that tobacco use has on our society," says Dr. Graham. "At the same time, we are confronted by the reality that almost half (47%) of Canadians are overweight or obese."
In fact, according to the Heart and Stroke Foundation, almost two-thirds (12.1 million) of Canadian adults (age 20-64) are overweight and/or smoke.
Recent US-based studies indicate that those who are obese can lose more than 10 years of life compared to their normal-weight peers. Obesity and smoking is a double-barreled threat that can cost even more years of life.
Heart and Stroke Foundation research has shown that the number of deaths in Canada attributable to overweight and obesity has almost doubled over the past fifteen years, increasing from 2,514 in 1985 to 4,321 in 2000.
Canadians Weigh In
The big question on everyone's minds is: Could public policies be implemented, similar to those being used to curb tobacco consumption, to address excess weight?

Who do Canadians believe is responsible?   Percentage of Canadians
Individual responsibility    54%
Government leadership needed      18%
Food industry leadership needed  2%

When the Heart and Stroke Foundation asked Canadians who is responsible for finding answers to this issue, one in six (18%) suggested that some level of government should take the lead. Interestingly, 2% of Canadians felt the food industry should show leadership.
Yet a panel of Canadian experts in the area of overweight and obesity, convened by the Foundation, says that without leadership from the food industry combined with government policy, the number of overweight Canadians will increase. Earlier polls suggest that the public strongly supports this combined effort.
    Overweight and obese Canadians are at greater risk of developing chronic diseases (heart disease, stroke, cancer, and diabetes) that can lead to premature death.
    "We live in an environment that promotes obesity, and individuals alone can't solve this problem," says Dr. Peter Katzmarzyk, epidemiologist and Heart and Stroke Foundation spokesperson. "The way our society is structured makes it difficult for many people to integrate healthy eating and daily physical activity into their lives. For example, in many cases urban development has reduced opportunities to integrate physical activity into daily life, such as walking to the store or informal sports."
    The Heart and Stroke Foundation points out that only 43% of Canadians are physically active. Plus, the convenience of calorie-dense foods - as opposed to healthier choices such as vegetables and fruit - in quick service restaurants, convenience stores and even gas stations, makes it even harder for Canadians to make healthy choices.
    "Our obsession with speed and quick solutions is one of the reasons weight is such a problem throughout North America," says Heart and Stroke Foundation spokesperson and dietitian, Rosie Schwartz. "We want fast foods and fast solutions. But the truth is that we have to get back to basics. And for the sake of the next generation, we have to instill these habits in our children."

    Tipping the scales the other way

    To help Canadians win the battle of the bulge, the Heart and Stroke Foundation is working with national health organizations to encourage all levels of government to commit greater resources to public health and to preventing chronic disease.
    Through the HealthCheck(TM) program ( www.healthcheck.org ), the Foundation is working with the food industry to help consumers identify healthy food choices. Over 70 manufacturers offer almost 400 products displaying the HealthCheck(TM) symbol. These products have been reviewed by the Heart and Stroke Foundation and they meet established nutrient criteria based on Canada's Food Guide to Healthy Eating.
    The Foundation also supports obesity-related research, and we are targeting strategic funds to this critical health issue. The Foundation is providing $1 million in initial funding to two multidisciplinary teams - 21 expert researchers - to examine the biological, social, behavioural and environmental aspects of obesity. Additional awards to individual researchers will be finalized by March 2004, furthering Canadian research capacity and
expertise in obesity.
    The Heart and Stroke Foundation also offers a number of health information resources including: an easy BMI test to see if you fall into the overweight danger zone, www.heartandstroke.ca/yourhealthtools . Canadians can also easily order the Healthy Habits, Healthy Weight booklet and take the Heart & Stroke Risk Assessment Test, available via www.heartandstroke.ca or the toll-free number 1-888-HSF-INFO (1-888-473-4636).

    The Heart and Stroke Foundation's Call to Action
    To the Food Industry:

Modify our food supply by reducing saturated and trans fat in foods. Work with the government to achieve this.
Restrict the distribution and advertising of 'junk foods' (energy dense, nutrient-poor foods) to children. Remove them from elementary and high school vending machines and cafeterias. Pulling pop out of schools may seem like a good beginning but is not if the vending machines still contain sugar-laden fruit drinks.
Ensure portion size and pricing are in alignment. Healthy choices should be available in restaurants. Supersize the salad, instead of charging more to replace the fries that already go with the meal.
Improve nutritional labeling and information in quick serve restaurants. Statistics show that on any given day, 30% of kids iving in North America visit a fast food restaurant. Their parents should have access to nutrition information on the overhead and table menus to help make informed choices at the point of purchase.

    To Government:
 All three levels of government - municipal, provincial and federal - must support strategies to encourage healthy living, such as: urban planning that supports recreational activity; quality daily physical education in all our schools; and most importantly, a public health system that has the resources to address overweight and obesity and the prevention of chronic diseases.


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