» Research Project

To ensure Healthy Start remains synonymous with “best evidence” and “best practice” and to continually improve our initiative, Healthy Start has paired up with researchers from across the country to include an evaluation component – our research project.

The Healthy Start research project aims to monitor and assess the impact of Healthy Start in both Saskatchewan and New Brunswick. We aim to understand the extent to which Healthy Start increases physical activity levels and healthy eating behaviours among children in early learning centres. Additionally, the recent expansion of Healthy Start from Saskatchewan to New Brunswick provides an opportunity to explore the transferability and generalizability of Healthy Start across Canada.

Healthy Start research aims to:

  • measure changes in levels of physical activity of children (3-5 years old)
  • observe changes in fundamental movement skills in children (3-5 years old)
  • measure changes in nutritional intake of young children (3-5 years old)
  • measure changes in knowledge and behaviour of caregivers with respect to healthy eating and physical activity
  • observe changes in policy around healthy eating and physical activity in the centre

The data collection of the Healthy Start evaluation study is now finished. Licensed childcare centres were randomly selected and invited to participate in the research. Early learning and child care centres were selected based on size, geographic location, language, and diversity of populations.

In Saskatchewan, the evaluation team selected 37 sites – 19 centres received the Healthy Start program and 18 took part as usual practice or comparison centres. To date in New Brunswick, 12 Healthy Start and 12 usual practice/comparison centres were selected for the study.  These include an equal mix of English and French childcare centres as well as rural and urban centres. Nearly 900 children participated in the evaluation.  Final reporting of results can be expected in the fall of 2016 or early 2017.

Previous research findings for Phase I of Healthy Start (initial piloting) are available for download here:

Summary Fact Sheet     /     Full Report


Our Research Team

Dr. Anne Leis

Co-Investigator - Community Health and Epidemiology, University of Saskatchewan

Dr. Louise Humbert

Co-Investigator - College of Kinesiology, University of Saskatchewan

Dr. Nazeem Muhajarine

Co-Investigator - Community Health and Epidemiology, University of Saskatchewan

Dr. Hassan Vatanparast

Co-Investigator - College of Pharmacy and Nutrition, University of Saskatchewan

Dr. Nazmi Sari

Co-Investigator - Department of Economics, University of Saskatchewan

Dr. Rachel Engler-Stringer

Co-Investigator - Community Health and Epidemiology, University of Saskatchewan

Dr. Amanda Froehlich Chow

Co-Investigator - Canadian Centre for Health Safety in Agriculture, College of Medicine, University of Saskatchewan

Dr. Stephanie Ward

Co-Investigator - Centre de formation médicale du Nouveau-Brunswick, Université de Moncton

Kavitha Ramachandran

PhD Candidate - Community Health and Epidemiology, University of Saskatchewan

Healthy Start has helped us add variety to our menu. Changing things up is always fun and good for children’s bodies!

- Parents’ Child Development Co-operative (SK)