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Inclusive movement behaviour guideline messaging: A subtle change with ripple effects

Background:

Canada established the world’s first 24-Hour Movement Guidelines (24HMGs) with recommendations for how much physical activity, sedentary behaviour and sleep individuals should accrue for optimal health benefits. The 24HMG for Children and Youth were developed in 2016, branded with a “4” to represent the four speeds of childhood: “Sweat, Step, Sleep, Sit”. Following release, parents of children with a disability said the guidelines and brand were not inclusive, but they would not expect the 24HMG to meet their children’s needs given disability is seldomly represented in public health messaging. Budget and time restrictions specified the same branding be used for the 24HMG for the Early Years in 2017. The purpose of this presentation is to outline the decision-making involved in de-adopting the previous, and developing a refined, 24HMG brand and messaging that is more inclusive for Canadians of all abilities.

Methods:

In 2019, a Knowledge Translation (KT) Committee was convened by the Canadian Society for Exercise Physiology to plan, execute and evaluate all efforts related to KT of the 24HMG for Adults (released in 2020). During planning, there was consensus among those involved that a new tagline “Move more, sit less, sleep well” would capture Canadian adults’ attention.  This message and potential others were pilot-tested with a sample of over 1000 Canadian adults; the majority preferred the proposed tagline, and agreed it would enhance their confidence to engage in the movement behaviours. As posters and infographics to communicate the 24HMG were being created, a team member brought forth a concern: demonizing sitting by telling people to “sit less” communicates, albeit unintentional, ableist ideals. The committee discussed the implications of proceeding vs. adjusting planned messages. Following considerable debate and reflection, the arguments in support of removing “sit less” outweighed potential unintended harms this national message might have on Canadians experiencing disability.

Results:

A more equitable tagline – “Move more, reduce sedentary time, sleep well”- was ultimately used, “Sweat, Step, Sleep, Sit” was removed from the “4”, and the brand colour scheme was changed to highlight the refined, more inclusive approach.  These changes marked a substantial turning point in how the organizations involved with 24HMGs consider, and actively engage with, equity in their operations.

Conclusions:

Challenging the pervasive “sit less” message permitted the KT committee to act in allyship to those who are inadequately reflected in existing messages and start a ripple effect for promoting equity and inclusion in public health messaging in Canada.

Jenn Tomasone poster

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