Report Card Development

nutrition school lunch kidsAbout the Report Card

As part of our mission to reduce childhood obesity and chronic disease in Canada, POWER UP! developed a Report Card on Healthy Food Environments and Nutrition for Children and Youth.

Modeling upon the success of the ParticipACTION Physical Activity Report Card (formerly produced by Active Healthy Kids Canada), POWER UP! has compiled the best available scientific knowledge, policies and advocacy strategies around food environments and nutrition for Alberta.

The purpose of the Report Card is to serve as a valuable tool and resource for policymakers, practitioners and the public to begin to understand the impact of food environments and nutrition on children and youth. It is our belief that the Report Card can be used to support effective programs and enhanced policy creation and implementation and to tell us where we are succeeding and where we require improvements.

On January 5, 2016, the first Report Card was released. [View media release here]

Over time, we hope to improve and expand the assessment across Canada to produce a national report.


This year’s Report Card used the conceptual framework developed by Brennan and colleagues1 as an overall guide. This framework depicts how policies and environments can interact and shape health-related behaviours and body weights of children. The framework suggests that there are four micro-environments (physical, communication, economic and social) that have policies embedded within each. To understand the infrastructure that supports policies and actions, within micro-environments, the political macro-environment was also examined.2, 3

conceptual frame with descriptors.fw
*Click image to enlarge

An Expert Working Group assigned grades to each indicator within the environments using the best available scientific knowledge and data on policies, programs and actions in Alberta. The grading scheme follows a series of four key decision steps:

i. Has the benchmark been met?
ii. Are supports in place?
iii. Is monitoring in place?; and
iv. Are high risk groups (e.g. aboriginal, minority and low socioeconomically disadvantaged groups) addressed?

Grading System Flow-chart:


Figure 2: Grading system flow-chart2

Although a “+” grade is appended to indicate a high-risk population is addressed, a “-” can be assigned based upon judgment by the Expert Working Group in cases for example, when supports and/or monitoring systems existed but were discontinued in recent years.

You can learn more about our methodology in the framework and grading scheme sections of the 2015 Report Card.

1. Brennan L, Castro S, Brownson RC, Claus J, Orleans CT. Accelerating evidence reviews and broadening evidence standards to identify effective, promising, and emerging policy and environmental strategies for prevention of childhood obesity. Annu Rev Public Health. 2011;32:199-223.
2. Olstad DL, Raine KD, Nykiforuk CI. Development of a Report Card on Healthy Food Environments and Nutrition for Children in Canada. Prev Med. 2014;69:287-295.
3. Swinburn B, Vandevijvere S, Kraak V, et al. Monitoring and benchmarking government policies and actions to improve the healthiness of food environments: a proposed Government Healthy Food Environment Policy Index. Obesity reviews : an official journal of the International Association for the Study of Obesity. Oct 2013;14 Suppl 1:24-37