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Initiative aims to help Burnaby get healthier

Burnaby is flush with outdoor spaces and facilities that encourage healthy activities. But there’s still work to do to keep its citizens healthy and out of hospitals, said Paul McDonell, the chair of the city’s social issues committee.

To help make that happen, the city will be developing a Healthy Community Partnership (HCP) with Fraser Health.

Two committees will be formed to address mental health, and physical literacy and activity. They’ll be comprised of representatives from the community, schools and health care and report to a steering committee that will work to implement their recommendations.

McDonell said as Burnaby’s population ages and becomes more diverse, the challenges to the health care system increase.

“We’ve got a booming aging population,” said McDonell. “They’ll put pressure on different needs.”

As will rising levels of poverty and changing patterns of health behaviour, which could lead to rising rates of chronic disease and mental health conditions.

Already four of the five leading causes of death in Burnaby are cancer, heart and respiratory diseases and stroke, while chronic diseases like diabetes, high blood pressure and asthma are becoming more common, said a report to city council outlining the proposed terms of reference for the HCP.

The report also said more than a third of Burnaby’s adult population is overweight or obese and only 40 per cent achieves recommended physical activity levels.

Improving those numbers will mean reaching people at a young age, through the schools, said McDonell.

“By getting schools involved, getting them going at an early age, they bring the messages home and their families will buy into it,” said McDonell, who expects the committees will be in place in the next few weeks.

Ultimately keeping individuals healthy benefits the whole community, said McDonell, as fewer tax dollars are siphoned by the health care system.

“It’s a bit of an investment,” he said.

 

 

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Community Events, April 2014

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