More than just diet and exercise
ACEWH collaborated with the British Columbia Centre of Excellence for Women's Health and the Prairie Women's Health Centre of Excellence to undertake the first mixed-methods, pan-Canadian study of women and healthy living.
Current focus on health promotion
- Since the early 2000s, "healthy living" has become the main approach to health promotion.
- Many countries have created guidelines and benchmarks for healthy living as a response to rising rates of chronic health conditions and escalating health care costs associated with the diagnosis and treatment of these conditions.
- Healthy living strategies have focused on diet and exercise, because of the association between obesity and chronic diseases and because of perceptions that the world is in the midst of an obesity epidemic.
- Healthy living is also characterized by an emphasis on individual education, individual choices and individual change.
- This approach to health promotion is premised on the assumption that if people know more, they will do better and be healthier.
Significant factors not considered
In the process, it ignores all of the personal, social, cultural, economic, political and geographic realities that limit choices and even the ability to choose. These limitations often have a greater impact on women and girls. Much of the literature on healthy living has paid scant attention to the needs of diverse groups of women and men, boys and girls or to the potential impact of healthy living strategies on health disparities and inequities.
Studies address previously ignored issues
ACEWH built on this work to explore the meaning and relevance of healthy living for specific sub-populations—lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer communities, and for women as they age. These studies, individually and collectively, suggest that healthy living policies and programs may not be good for the health of all women and girls because these strategies do not adequately address the social determinants of health.