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Obesity Climbs Among Canadian Adults

Fri May 10, 2002

By Juhie Bhatia

TORONTO (Reuters Health) - Canadian adults are getting fatter, despite their increased levels of physical activity, according to statistics released on Wednesday.

The number of obese Canadians between the ages of 20 and 64 grew by 24% from 1994-1995 to 2000-2001, according to Statistics Canada's Canadian Community Health Survey (CCHS). 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.

To measure obesity, Statistics Canada used the body mass index (BMI), a measure of weight and height calculated by dividing a person's weight in kilograms by their height in meters squared. A person is considered obese if the resulting number is 30 or more.

Surprisingly, 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 climb in 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.

The survey also shows that although obesity levels have increased all across Canada, 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, though this may attributed to a population influx. Nova Scotia and British Columbia were also among the provinces with the highest increases in obesity, while Manitoba had the lowest increase, at only 14%.

The CCHS report is based on information collected from September 2000 to November 2001 from over 130,000 individuals across Canada above the age of

SOURCE: Statistics Canada's Canadian Community Health Survey (CCHS)

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