Obesity Rates at Historic High, North and Atlantic Provinces Tip Scale Most: Study

By Ubelacker, Sheryl | The Canadian Press, February 27, 2013 | Go to article overview

Obesity Rates at Historic High, North and Atlantic Provinces Tip Scale Most: Study


Ubelacker, Sheryl, The Canadian Press


Canadian adult obesity at historic high: study

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TORONTO - Obesity rates are at an all-time high, especially in certain parts of the country, say researchers, who have "mapped" the changes to illustrate how Canadians' waistlines have expanded over time.

Overall, at least one-quarter of Canadian adults have a body mass index of 30 or greater that puts them in the obese category, concludes a study that provides a comprehensive look at rates across the country, complete with "obesity maps."

"Our analysis shows that more Canadians are obese than ever before -- on average, between one-fourth and one-third of Canadians are obese, depending on the region," said principal author Carolyn Gotay of the School of Population and Public Health at the University of British Columbia.

The Atlantic provinces and the two territories -- Nunavut and the Northwest Territories -- had the highest obesity rates between 2000 and 2011, with more than 30 per cent of the population in these regions estimated to be obese.

British Columbia had the lowest overall rates, but obesity still increased from less than 20 per cent to almost 25 per cent in that province. In Quebec, the rate stayed at about 24 per cent.

Gotay said mapping regional rates provides more than a decade of easy-to-use visual snapshots that should help researchers, policy makers and the public identify where investments are especially needed to fight the obesity epidemic.

"It seems to tell us that certain areas are definitely experiencing more heavy people," she said from Vancouver. "In certain areas, the percentage of people who are obese is alarming and does have implications for health care costs and quality of life down the road."

The effects of obesity are indeed expensive: in 2008, they were estimated to cost the Canadian economy $4.6 billion, up about 20 per cent from 2000.

Being obese can lead to cardiovascular disease, diabetes and certain cancers, among them breast, prostate, colorectal and pancreatic tumours.

The study, published Wednesday in the Canadian Journal of Public Health, used self-reported BMI data from the Canadian Community Health Survey, which researchers adjusted to get more accurate obesity estimates. Over the 11-year study period, the researchers found the greatest increases occurred between 2000 and 2007. …

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