Obesity climbs among Canadian adults

May 14, 2002 in Weight Management

Obesity climbs among Canadian adults

Canadian adults are getting fatter, despite their increased levels of physical activity, according to Statistics Canada's Canadian Community Health Survey (CCHS), a report released last week. A person is considered obese if his or her BMI (body mass index) is 30 or more.

The number of obese Canadians between the ages of 20 and 64 grew by 24% from 1994-1995 to 2000-2001. These 2.8 million obese individuals make up about 15% of the adult population, up from 13% six years earlier.

Men accounted for two-thirds of the rise in obesity during this time period, up 32%, while the number of obese women increased 15%, the survey found. Young women aged 20 to 34 were the only population group to show a slight drop in obesity.

Obesity is on the rise at a time when Canadians are leading more active lifestyles. Nearly 8 million Canadians aged 20 to 64 classified themselves as active or moderately active in their leisure time, up 21% since 1994-1995. However, the report shows that this increase in physical activity was entirely due to individuals whose weight was already within the acceptable range. Obese people, who are most in need of physical activity, were the least active and are still not getting enough exercise.

Although obesity levels have increased across the whole country, rates are lowest in larger urban areas and some provinces are putting on the pounds faster than others. Alberta is leading the way; its obesity rates climbed 55% in this 6-year-period. Nova Scotia and British Columbia were also among the provinces with the highest increases in obesity, while Manitoba had the lowest increase.

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