Case Studies

Alberta Health: Healthy U

Type: Case Studies
Topic: Community and Customer Relations
By Martha Jamieson
26 October 2014


For the first time in history, our children’s lifespan could be 2 to 5 years less than our own. This is attributed, in large part, to obesity rates in children. In Canada, over 26% of children and youth aged 2 to 17 are either overweight or obese, a substantial and worrisome upward trend when compared to statistics 20 years earlier, when only 15% were overweight or obese. A 2005
study declared that childhood obesity rates have tripled in the past three decades. Physical  inactivity and poor nutrition are linked to higher rates of obesity, type 2  diabetes, and other chronic diseases. Research indicating that only 9% of Canadian boys and 4% of girls meet national physical activity recommendations shows the significant challenge that we face.

The Government of Alberta’s Ministry of Health set out to stem this alarming trend by creating a framework for a healthy Alberta. In 2002 Alberta Health launched a social marketing program called  Healthy U, aimed at encouraging the more than three million Albertans to live healthier lives by targeting different audiences with healthy eating and active living (HEAL) messages. This long term vision was reaffirmed in 2010 with the government’s five year Health Action Plan that identified getting Albertans healthier as one of five key strategies to drive improvements in our province’s  health care system.

In 2011, we began working with Alberta Health on a new three-­?year communication program to  support HEAL behaviour change with young children (ages 0 to 12) by targeting their parents and their caregivers. We developed a communications strategy targeting influencers in children’s lives  with a multi-­?pronged advertising campaign to promote healthy eating and active living. The first year of the advertising, launched in the summer of 2012, specifically targeted parents with 0 to 5  year old children. The second year of advertising, known as The 5&1 Experiment, launched in the summer of 2013 and targeted parents with 6 to 12 year old children.



Martha Jamieson

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