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September 12, 2012
For immediate release

SHAPES-PEI provides snapshot of PEI student health

Education and Early Childhood Development

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UPEI, along with the PEI Department of Education and Early Childhood Development and the PEI Department of Health and Wellness, today released the results of the 2010-11 School Health Action Planning and Evaluation System (SHAPES-PEI) survey. SHAPES-PEI gathers information from students in grades 5 through 12 about healthy eating, physical activity, mental fitness and tobacco use. This is the second release of data since SHAPES-PEI began in 2008.

“The impetus for SHAPES-PEI came years ago,” said Dr. Donna Murnaghan, principal investigator of SHAPES-PEI and associate professor of nursing at UPEI. “We were being faced with startling statistics for obesity and physical activity levels in Island adults. We realized we were looking at the wrong end of the chain. We needed to start by examining the lifestyles and health of our youth.”

SHAPES-PEI provides a snapshot of the health behaviours of PEI students. Sterling Carruthers, school health specialist for the PEI Department of Education and Early Childhood Development, said it’s important to not just look at physical activity and eating habits, but also mental fitness.

“Think of mental fitness as a tool to measure how a student feels about herself or himself,” said Carruthers. “How is mental fitness related to health behaviours? We want to understand what makes students feel good about themselves, and how that contributes to healthy lifestyle choices.”

Highlights from the 2010-11 SHAPES-PEI survey include:

• 69% of PEI students have high levels of mental fitness (up from 66% in 2008)

• 23% of students reported eating “other” foods (high fat, salty, sugary snacks or beverages) seven or more times the day before the survey (down from 30% in 2008)

• 6% of students consider themselves to be current smokers (down from 8% in 2008)

• 25% of students admit to having ever tried smoking (down from 30% in 2008)

“We are pleased to participate in the SHAPES-PEI survey, which provides valuable insight and information about our Island students,” said Education and Early Childhood Development Minister Alan McIsaac. “The results of the research help inform and guide our policies and programs within the Department and the board level as well.”

“The Department of Health and Wellness is very excited to see this type of research being conducted in Prince Edward Island,” said Minister of Health and Wellness Doug Currie. “As the Minister responsible for health, it is very important that we have access to quality, locally relevant data that can help inform health programming in our province. The SHAPES-PEI report provides a wealth of valuable information about students’ perceptions and behaviours around physical activity, healthy eating, mental fitness and tobacco use. We look forward to working with Dr. Murnaghan and the Department of Education and Early Childhood Development to continue efforts to improve the health of youth in PEI.”

“I cannot stress enough how important it is to have the cooperation and support of the provincial government in SHAPES-PEI,” said Dr. Murnaghan. “PEI is unique among provinces to have such comprehensive, locally relevant data on the health of its students. This is data that researchers can use, but it can also give schools and policy-makers information with which to make sound decisions.”

SHAPES-PEI is implemented in collaboration with the national Youth Smoking Survey (YSS), funded by Health Canada, which collects data from Island students on tobacco, drug and alcohol use.

Full copies of the 2010-11 SHAPES-PEI Provincial Health Profile and the 2010 YSS results for PEI are available by request, or by visiting

Media Contact: Laura Steeves
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