Make No Little Plans – Ontario to be the Healthiest Place in the World

I have no idea who holds the title right now, but they had better watch their extremely fit backs…because Ontario is about to take the world by storm and become the world’s healthiest people.

Ontario’s public health community recently released Make No Little Plans, the first-ever comprehensive strategic plan for the public health sector. The plan outlines the sector’s five shared strategic goals and eight collective areas of focus for the next three to five years.

Make No Little Plans is a roadmap that will help Ontarians become the healthiest people in the world, calling for strong partnerships across all sectors to work towards:

  • Giving children the best start in life
  • Improving the prevention and control of infectious diseases through immunization
  • Getting more Ontarians to exercise more, eat better, not smoke and drink less alcohol
  • Influencing municipal planning and policy to reinforce the strong link between community planning and health outcomes
  • Strengthening the public health sector’s capacity, infrastructure and emergency preparedness

Sounds great…doesn’t it?

Especially when we consider that 60 % of all Ontario deaths in 2007 were attributable to five factors…

  • smoking,
  • unhealthy alcohol consumption,
  • poor diet,
  • physical inactivity
  • and high stress

…and that Ontarians with all five of these risk factors are losing on average…almost 20 years of life.

And if that wasn’t bad enough, all of this unhealthiness has created an economic problem – 25% of all publicly funded health care costs are due to preventable illnesses – diabetes, heart disease, cancer, etc) – with that that number growing year after year after year.

And since no one wants to keep paying higher and higher taxes, the government is getting serious with their No Little Plan plan.


Fingers crossed that the plan works…because I am sick and tired of seeing my countrymen looking more like the uber-pudgy BEFORE picture than the super-studly AFTER picture.

I am also sick of seeing my taxes go up and up and up…but that shouldn’t come as a surprise.

So…what happens now?

To be honest, I have no idea. The No Little Plan calls for all sorts of sectors to be involved:


Does anyone see a potential problem?

I do….Nowhere amongst all these very smart and dedicated people do I see any mention of the PUBLIC.

I see no mention of parents groups or community associations or social activists or any other the other grassroots organizations that can turn a bunch of strangers into a tight-knit and vibrant community.

For example, I know a LOT of fitness professionals in Toronto who would be willing to donate their time & expertise to help make their city a fitter, healthier place. I also know members of my neighborhood residents’ association who would gladly donate their time and expertise to help create healthier, fitter neighborhoods across the city.

But no one is speaking to them. And that’s a shame.

Because in a world where social media gives power to the individual, governments really need to start moving away from their top-down approach to policy and start incorporating input from (and ceding power to) the grassroots.

– End of rant –

Seriously, I am excited that my provincial government is taking steps to help improve the health of it’s citizenry. It’s a truly noble and truly big plan. Something we could all be proud of.


“Make no little plans. They have no magic to stir men’s blood and probably themselves will not be realized. Make big plans; aim high in hope and work, remembering that a noble, logical diagram once recorded will never die, but long after we are gone will be a living thing, asserting itself with ever-growing insistency. Remember that our sons and grandsons are going to do things that would stagger us. Let your watchword be order and your beacon beauty. Think big.”

Daniel Burnham, Chicago architect. (1846-1912)



  1. I live in Daniel Burnham’s big city of beauty you know! This plan sounds very ambitious. I’ll be interested to see what Dr. Freedhoff has to say about it. It’s sure to turn up in his blog any minute now!!

  2. I’m sorry, I’d comment about the article, but I was stopped short by you being sick and tired of looking at overweight people.

    Sorry that the existence of me and people like me offends you so much.

  3. Brit, you may want to consider why you interpreted what I said – “I am sick and tired of seeing my countrymen looking more like the uber-pudgy BEFORE picture than the super-studly AFTER picture.” as as an attack on you personally and overweight people in general.

    I am sick and tired of seeing our society become increasingly unhealthy…as evidenced by the increase in obesity/metabolic disease/diabetes/etc

    And while I do believe that each individual has to take personal responsibility for themselves, I have written numerous times about how the structure of our society is deeply flawed as it pertains to the health of it’s citizenry. We build communities that discouage walking. We abandon physical activity in our employment. We develop pastimes & forms of entertainment which require no physical participation. Basically, we have created a world where the norm is to sit on your ass or lay on your back for almost all of the day.

    If that wasn’t bad enough, we have created a food production system which glorifies speed and and satisfaction of deep-brain pleasure centers over nutrition.

    I could go on and on and on.

    When I say that I am sick of seeing overweight people, that’s exactly what I mean.

    If overweight people choose to interpret that as a personal insult, maybe they need to take a look inside to figure out why this offends them.

  4. I didn’t say anything insulting Brit…you assumed I did. Not that it’s too surprising that you assumed that. There is a general hate-on for obese individuals in the media.

    But I still find it interesting how you interpreted my words. Why did you make the assumptions that you did? Why did that make you angry? It might be an interesting quasi-buddhist experiment for you to look inwards and see what emotional buttons just got pushed…and why

  5. You said you were sick and tired of looking at overweight people (i.e. me). That’s insulting. I wasn’t making any assumptions, I was just reading the words you wrote. Maybe you didn’t mean it to be, but I’m sorry, intent isn’t magic. Maybe you’re the one who should look inwards and see why people you pass on the street, who have no part of your life and haven’t done anything to you, make you so angry.

  6. Brit, I realize that you don’t really “know” me even though you have been reading my blog for a long time now.(which I truly appreciate and am grateful for…honestly, I am often surprised by how many people take the time out of the day to read my scribblings)…so let me try to explain my position on how I feel about obesity and our unhealthy society.

    IMHO, the debate over our unhealthy lifestyle has devolved into a simplistic either/or type of discussion.

    You either hate fat people and blame them for being the author of their own misfortune or you defend obese people as victims and try to convince others that obesity is normal.

    I believe that both of these positions are ridiculously simplistic and are making the problem worse instead of better.

    What I believe is that:

    1. Ultimately we are all responsible for our own health. No matter the obstacles placed in our way, we have to take ownership of our own health.
    2. With that being said, there is no benefit (to the individual or to society) of being cruel to obese individuals. Personally, I believe that tough love, in the form of calling people on their bullshit isn’t being cruel. So, when I tell a client that they are not being honest when they tell me that they are doing everything they can and are still not achieving their goals, I don’t see that as cruelty…I see that as doing them a favor by not letting them lie to themselves..or to me.
    3. In countries with socialized healthcare, I understand why cranky taxpayers are upset with the increasing costs of lifestyle disease on their tax dollars. Unfortunately, most of those cranky people also enjoy blaming other people without looking at their own impact on the tax system. We don’t ban smoking even though we know the healthcare costs associated with cancer. None of us live perfect health-positive lives. Yelling at type 2 diabetics for impacting the healthcare system isn’t going to make the problem go away.
    4. There are a myriad of different reasons why obesity/diabetes/etc rates have climbed so high. And while I still believe that the individual has to take responsibility for their role, society as a whole has allowed a lot of things to happen that have had negative repercussions. For example, i love my car. But I don’t think it’s healthy to drive everywhere. Living in an urban environment, I have the luxury of being to ditch the car and walk the city to go see the doctor, pick up groceries, go see a movie, etc.. However, in a lot of suburban environments, walking is not a good option. New housing development is based around driving. In addition to the car, we can look at our food supply. The gov’t has created an un-free market where processed food is allowed to thrive and healthy food producers are forced to charge higher costs than their junk-food brethren. There is also legitimate research showing how chemicals in our environment are obesogenic and unhealthy in a number of ways.
    5. There is a strong streak of misplaced moral outrage being directed at obese individuals. People may couch their arguments in terms of financial cost or a supposed concern for the health of others, but there is definitely this weird moral outrage against “fat-people” Personally, these are the people that piss me off the most…and that is why I have reacted so strongly to your comment. I am sorry that you feel that I am picking on obese individuals as if I think they are lesser/weaker/flawed individuals. I don’t

    I look at obese individuals as people who have made poor choices while living in a society that encourages those poor choices. I also know that there are lots of people who make the same poor choices and never gain any extra weight. Lucky them.

    At the end of the day, no matter what genetic/economic/environmental/social/emotional/intellectual shortcomings we may have, we still have to take responsibility for our lives. If that means never eating pizza be it. If that means pestering politicians every day to stop junk-food producers from advertising to our kids, so be it. If that means not letting developers ignore pedestrians, so be it.

    And for me, if that means taking the time to explain to you that I don’t think less of obese people than lean people, I will do that. We are all flawed individuals. Personally, I would be really, really big if I don’t eat healthy and exercise. And for me, that’s important. It may not be for someone else and if they’re fine with that, so am I. But I will also call bullshit when someone tells me they can’t lose weight…no matter how hard they try.

    People lie to themselves all the time…and not just people trying to lose weight.

    Sorry for the long rant…your comments have been bouncing through my head all weekend. I am exactly the kind of person who looks inside himself to try to figure out what his thoughts/emotions are really saying. Not that I am perfect by any means…but I am trying.

    And if after 4 years of writing this blog, my writings have made YOU think that I hate or blame fat people, I guess on some level, I am failing miserably. And that sucks. Maybe it’s time to re-think the blog???

  7. I think you just need to think a little more about what you post. All of the stuff you’ve said in the comments is fine, I understand that even if I don’t agree with all of it. And if you’d said even 1/100 of that in the post, it’d be fine.

    But you didn’t. Instead, you made the smartass comment that you were tired of seeing people who look overweight. I know you don’t “hate” people, but you don’t get that from the post, and the offhand comment was enough to set my teeth on edge.

    And I know that your blog can’t cater to everyone, but maybe realize that not everyone responds to tough love. I know that when people yell at me, it makes me want to do the exact opposite. When I was exhausted in martial arts drills in college, and the instructor would yell to “Jump higher!”, that didn’t motivate me to jump higher. It made me angry and shoot back, “I’m jumping as high as I can!” I KNOW I’m not doing absolutely everything possible to loose weight right now, but I’m doing everything I FEEL like I can at the moment. I’m doing these workouts even though I’d much rather just sit around after I get home from work. It may be physically possible to do more, but not mentally. So your “tough love” telling me that I’m lying to myself would just make me tell you to f*ck off.

    I think that’s why I don’t like any of your motivational things. There’s no “keep trying, do what you can”, it’s just “sweat and do everything 110% and if you’re not, you’re not trying hard enough”.

    Use of pictures like the before and after in this post don’t help either, by showing two outrageous extremes. First, it’s going to be a long time (if ever) before I have anything even vaguely resembling a six pack, so showing me nothing but athletic gods is discouraging. Don’t you have any pictures of average people working out? And second, use of that huge man (and the children you use too, I’m sure you know which pic I’m talking about) can get old. Do you think I look like that? Because I look much more like the women in this link, and those in the “Nearby Photographs”: I’m pretty sure that by BMI standards I, and the women in those pictures, are considered “morbidly obese” (my BMI is in the high 30s, at least), but when people hear that term they don’t think of us, they think of the “before” guy. Maybe not contributing to that would help.

    Who knows, maybe this is just the wrong type of blog for me. But I’d wager that there are other people like me out there.

    And to think, I was actually going to try to work out as soon as I got home. Now it’s over an hour later, and I’m not going to be showered and able to eat dinner until or 9:30 at the earliest. Wonderful.

  8. Brit, the comment was not offhand. It was a very deliberate choice of words and reflects how I feel about the situation.

    Like I said in the article, I am sick of seeing my countrymen being becoming increasingly obese and unhealthy. What I didn’t say was that I think less of those people for being obese. Just like I don’t think that smokers deserve to get cancer or people who don’t wear seatbelts deserve to die in a car crash.

    Being obese IS a sign of ill health. And when we talk about it solely in terms of appearance, we are minimizing the true nature of the problem…for the individual AND for society as a whole.

    Unfortunately for obese individuals, our society does seem to hate fat people. And it’s not just the skinnies who hate the fatties. There are lots and lots of obese people who hate themselves and their corpulent cousins.

  9. Fine. Whatever. That’s not how I interpreted it, but now, to borrow your words, I’m sick and tired of this conversation. Thanks for not even bothering to acknowledge the rest of my comment.

  10. “Being obese IS a sign of ill health. And when we talk about it solely in terms of appearance, we are minimizing the true nature of the problem…for the individual AND for society as a whole.”

    This is the essence of the post. One should excercise to gain optimal health for their body type. This will (hopefully) yield positive results for the individual, as well as, have an effect on government funded health care in broad terms.

    Brit, don’t take it personally. If you are happy with your health and body, then none of these comments should bother you. If you want to modify your health habits and body, then find a method that works for YOU, and try to stick to it.

Comments are closed.