Canada Faces Obesity Epidemic

canada obesity epidemic

New research indicates that obesity isn’t just on the rise in Canada, it is on the brink of becoming an epidemic. The 2007-2009 Canadian Health Measures Survey found more than 60% of adults were overweight or obese, with 24% being overweight, and 37% obese. The survey findings were published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal.

If this upward trend in body weight continues, 50% of Canadians over age 40 will be obese in 25 years. The study author, Dr. Mark J. Eisenberg of the Jewish General Hospital, says that obesity is expected to surpass smoking as the leading cause of preventable illness and death.   The rise in obesity is thought to be caused by increased consumption of junk food and decreases in activity levels.

Dr. Mona Misra, well-respected bariatric surgeon and co-founder of one of the first Canadian comprehensive multidisciplinary outpatient weight loss programs, spoke with us about the study: “Although Canada’s population is not a large as the United States’, its obesity rates are proportional, and continue to increase at an alarming rate. There is no question that increasing obesity rates will have a devastating effect on Canadians’ morbidity and mortality, as well as Canada’s financial system, supporting government funded universal healthcare.”

When asked about the role that governments and educators can play in intervening in this disturbing trend, Dr. Misra said: “Canada has been working hard to address the need of providing surgical options for morbidly obese patients, but it is crucial to also proceed with primary preventative measures to try to control and hopefully decrease these alarming obesity issues. This is definitely a multifaceted issue that requires all areas of the community and government to help combat this resilient, but treatable disease.” She concluded that she believes Canada has the ability to institute these vital changes, and hopes to see it emulated around the world.

The potential obesity epidemic is Canada has been a source of inspiration for Dr. Misra, who is part of the core group in Canada working to create a standard of excellence for bariatric centers across the country. She told us, “Being part of the organizing group to drive government awareness of the epidemic of obesity and it’s long term health implications, I can understand how challenging it will be to make the types of changes suggested in this article. Our group was responsible for working with and educating the government in the creation of Bariatric Centers of Excellence in Ontario. This model was designed to be used as the standard as additional centers were to be opened across Canada.

We are very proud of our initial results. Access for patients requesting surgical intervention for the treatment of their morbid obesity experienced decreased wait times from over 8 years to approximately 6 months. Unfortunately 99% of eligible patients are still unaware of, or even attempt to pursue this life-saving surgical therapy, so there is still a long road ahead to adequately address this public education issue. Although the changes mentioned in the article will be helpful in instituting some preventative measures to combat obesity, we still need to educate the population of the long term health effects of obesity with all of the possible preventative or curative options available to them.”

You can read ScienceDaily’s article here, and learn more about Dr. Mona Misra here.

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