Health and Behaviours in Teens (HABITs) 

The overall goal of the study is to understand the impact of transitioning from elementary school (grade 7) to secondary school (grade 8) on students’ health behaviours including physical activity, sedentary activity (e.g., screen time), and eating habits. In addition, we want to examine what factors in the school, home, and social environments impact these behaviours. Finally, we aim to understand how students’ health behaviours are linked to academic performance.

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A Good Start Matters: Do supportive childcare centre environments, policies and practices enhance physical activity?

In recent years, the BC Government has acknowledged the negative influence that physical inactivity and obesity have on the health of children and youth in Canada. As a response, the Director of Licensing released the Active Play Standards of Practice for Childcare Facilities in 2016. These guidelines provide several recommendations of how to incorporate Active Play in daily routines in childcare environments. To help support the implementation of these Standards, the government also offers communication and capacity-building interventions, such as Appetite to Play. Our lab research group is interested in exploring the impact that the implementation of the Active Play Standards and the use of the intervention materials have on the environment, polices, and practices in childcare settings, as well as on the health behaviours in children.

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A Good Start Matters for Parents and Children

Our goal

The Good Start Matters – Parenting intervention focuses on positive parenting practices with the ultimate goal of creating a familial environment that supports lifelong healthy habits among children as it relates to healthy eating and engagement in physical activity.


In Canada, nearly 20% of children aged 2-11 years old live with overweight/obesity and this prevalence tends to increase as children get older. Early childhood is an important developmental period where healthy habits are formed, and the familial environment plays a key role in shaping children’s dietary and physical activity behaviors through their parenting practices. This illustrates the potential of the early years as a key period to prevent childhood obesity, develop healthy habits and set children on a healthy path as they age.

Our parenting program

The Good Start Matters – Parenting intervention integrates behavioral, familial and system approaches to promote positive parenting with respect to nutrition, physical activity, and screen-time among young children. The intervention is theoretically anchored on Social Cognitive Theory. In addition, it integrates evidence-based techniques known to support behaviour change (e.g., self-regulatory techniques) and guidelines for nutrition, physical activity, and screen-time. The efficacy of the intervention is currently being evaluated. The findings of the evaluation will provide us with the foundational knowledge to learn how to best support parents at a key developmental stage of their children.

Who is this program designed for?

British Columbian parents and key caregivers of children aged 2.5-5 years.

How is the parenting program delivered?

Online, via a mobile-Health app that is available for both Apple and Android smartphone users.

What is the program duration?

This is a 2-months intervention that integrates 9 modules, where new content is released on a weekly basis.

What does participation in the program involve?

  • Downloading the app and participating in the Good Start Matters – Parenting program. New content is released weekly for 9 weeks and it takes about 20 minutes/week to review the content. Each week the parent receives new information, answers a few questions to assess their familial environment, and works on a positive parenting goal.
  • As we are currently evaluating the Good Start Matters – Parenting intervention, participating families are also expected to complete some measurement tools to help us better understand parent-child interactions around eating and active/sedentary behaviors, and to improve this parenting program to support more families and children in the future.  

The Sino-Canada Healthy Life Trajectories Initiative (SCHeLTI)

Brief description

The Healthy Life Trajectories Initiative (HeLTI) was developed in partnership with funders from Canada, India, China and South Africa, in collaboration with the World Health Organization, to address the increasing burden of non-communicable diseases including obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease and poor mental health around the world. This partnership led to the development of four separate but harmonized intervention studies that are co-developed with a Canadian team. The study builds on a strong network of collaborations, including researchers from 11 Canadian universities.

The HeLTI projects follow a Developmental Origins of Health and Disease approach targeting the promotion of healthy growth and the prevention of childhood obesity. One of these trials is the Sino-Canadian HeLTI (SCHeLTI), which is an ongoing cluster randomized trial evaluating the effectiveness of a multi-component life-course intervention aimed at preventing overweight and obesity from preconception to 5 years of age in Shanghai. At its core, SCHeLTI is an evidence-based life-course intervention that integrates principles from Self-Determination Theory and Social Cognitive Theories combined with a system approach. Specifically, SCHeLTI provides the tools and skills to health professionals in supporting healthy parenting and caregiving practices which ensure both the health of children and their families. As children reach 3 years of age, the intervention has a stronger family-system focus to ensure parents and key caregivers develop healthy parenting practices.