Colour It Up! For Health Professional - Go for More Vegetables and Fruit

Organization Sponsor: Toronto Public Health

Organization Partner: Scarborough Centre for Healthy Communities


Program Description

For several years, Toronto Public Health (TPH) has been delivering the Colour It Up (CIU) Program – a program that focuses on the importance of eating enough vegetables and fruit each day. The program runs once a week for eight weeks. During each two-hour session, participants engage in a variety of nutrition education activities and they also get a chance to cook, preparing many healthy recipes that include vegetables and fruit.

Most recently, TPH delivered the program in the fall of 2010 at the Scarborough Centre for Healthy Communities (SCHC), a Community Health Centre that provides a variety of high-quality community health programming.

Fifteen women participated in the program, of all different ages and different ethnic backgrounds. Indeed the participants reflected the rich diversity of the community.

Program Approximate Cost: 


Funding Sources: 

Ministry of Health Promotion. Cancer Care Ontario, the Canadian Cancer Society (Ontario Division) and the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Ontario are provincial partners.

Strategies For Sustainability: 

The Colour It Up Program is provincially coordinated by the Nutrition Resource Centre (NRC) at the Ontario Public Health Association and supported by funding.

Impact Of Program: 

In fact, total vegetable and fruit consumption of the pilot program participants INCREASED THREE-FOLD from expected results from the literature.
Here are just a few examples of participant feedback:
"I learned so many things about eating healthy food."
"It was an enriching and friendly networking community cooking event."
"The recipes were very easy to prepare, we were able to ask a lot of questions and get the answer."

Evaluation Tools: 

The program has been proven effective at increasing fruit and vegetable consumption among women ages 19-50. A formal and rigorous evaluation of the Colour It Up: 5 -10 a day your way (Colour It Up) has demonstrated the success of this vegetable and fruit behavioural intervention program.

Key Elements Towards Success: 

This program was particularly successful for two main reasons:
(1) The participants were so motivated and enthusiastic to learn about healthy eating and to engage in hands-on cooking. To recognize and encourage their continued interest, much of the programming was driven by their plentiful suggestions and questions.
(2) Working with SCHC was amazing – an ideal partnership! One health promoter at the SCHC took the lead to help promote the program, register participants and be present at each session. TPH strives to ensure some kind of sustainability of food skills programming after the completion of programs and they've done just that at the SCHC. For example, starting in January 2011, the centre is offering "Winter Wednesdays" – a series of lunch time information sessions for the public on various health related topics. Two of the CIU participants from the fall were hired to prepare a light lunch for these sessions. A truly inspiring example of how leaders were identified from the CIU program and how they're now applying some of their new skills.

Challenges To Meet Them: 

Promotion of the program at the community level. Many health professionals have become sponsors of this program in their communities.

Length and Stage of Project: 

The Colour It Up Program (originally TAKE Five) was developed by Cancer Care Ontario and pilot tested in 12 diverse Ontario communities in 2002. The impetus for the program stemmed from consistent scientific evidence indicating that increased vegetable and fruit consumption is an important factor in reducing the risk of cancer, cardiovascular disease and diabetes.

Share Your Thoughts