One in four Canadian adults is considered obese, a dramatic increase over the past 25 years, Statistics Canada reports. According to results for the 2004 Canadian Community Health Survey, which measured most of the 35,000 respondents' height and weight, 23 per cent of all adults are obese, representing 5.5 million people.
- INDEPTH: Body Mass Index
In 1978-79, the last time a survey of this type was taken, 14 per cent of adults were obese. Obesity rates were calculated using the body mass index (BMI) by dividing weight in kilograms by height in metres squared. A normal BMI rate is in the 18.5 to 24.9 range while someone who records a BMI over 30 is considered obese.
The study is considered Canada's most accurate measurement of waistlines.
Among adults, those aged 25 to 34 and 75 or older recorded the biggest increase, nearly doubling their obesity rates to 21 per cent and 24 per cent respectively.
Three per cent of children aged two to 17 were obese 25 years ago. That rate shot up to eight per cent in 2004. The biggest increases in obesity rates in young people occurred among those aged 12 to 17, where the rate tripled from three per cent to nine per cent.
Dr. Gregory Taylor
"Obese and overweight children tend to be obese and overweight adults and they'll be experiencing the risks of that for their entire lifetime," said Dr. Gregory Taylor of the Public Health Agency of Canada in Canada.
- INDEPTH: Obese Nation
Promoting healthy habits
- INDEPTH: School phys-ed
"Children are still developing those lifestyle behaviours that may lead to overweight," said Geoff Ball, a pediatrics professor. By targeting them at an earlier age, doctors and parents have a chance of steering children to a healthier track, he said.
Provincially, men's rates were significantly above the national level in Newfoundland and Labrador (33 per cent) and Manitoba (30 per cent). Women's rates surpassed the national figure in Newfoundland and Labrador (35 per cent), Nova Scotia (30 per cent) and Saskatchewan (33 per cent).
But Canada's adult obesity rate was significantly lower than the U.S. While 23 per cent of Canadian adults were obese in 2004, the rate was nearly 30 per cent south of the border.
The researchers also found men and women who ate fruit and vegetables less than three times a day were more likely to be obese than were those who consumed those foods five or more times a day.
People who were sedentary were more likely than those who were physically active to be obese. For example, 27 per cent of sedentary men were obese, compared with 19.6 per cent of active men.
Source: Youtube, Aljazeera, CBC