Urgent Action Needed to Fight Rising Obesity Rates in Canada Says Ground-Breaking Senate Report
Ottawa, March 1st, 2016 – The Standing Senate Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology is calling for a National Campaign to Combat Obesity, a complete revision of Canada’s food guide to better reflect scientific evidence, a ban on advertising food and drink to children, a possible tax on sugar-sweetened beverages, a review of nutrition food labelling to make it easier to understand, and a plan for making healthy food more affordable.
The above statements are among the 21 recommendations released today in a ground-breaking report entitled Obesity in Canada: A Whole-of-Society Approach for a Healthier Canada, which was written following an intensive study conducted between February 2014 and June 2015.
The rates of obesity-linked chronic conditions, such as Type 2 diabetes, heart disease, stroke and some cancers are soaring and as a result, the health impacts on individuals and a society are enormous.
An increase in consumption of prepackaged, highly processed foods, like instant noodles, prepackaged pizzas, candy, soft drinks, and salty snacks, the increase in use of personal computers, and lack of sufficient physical activity are listed as some of the key contributors to Canada’s “obesogenic culture” – one that promotes poor eating and low levels of activity.
“Obesity is a crucial determinant of serious health issues and declining quality of life, with enormous resulting costs to society. Poor diet is a major risk factor in obesity. A substantial reduction in sugar (carbohydrate) consumption would go a long way toward restoring a normal body weight and improved health. Diet can be controlled, but you cannot out-exercise a poor diet.”
“Obesity is not only leading to poor health for far too many Canadians, but it is also resulting in increased health care costs for all of us. It is paramount that all levels of government come together to create a National Campaign to Combat Obesity. This campaign should have concrete goals, timelines and progress reports.”
- Since 1980, the number of obese adults has doubled, while the number of obese children has tripled.
- Rates of overweight and obesity in Aboriginal population is considerably higher than the rest of Canada (adults: 70%; children under 11 years of age: 62.5%).
- Canada ranks fifth for the number of obese adults and sixth for obese children among industrialized countries.
- The cost in health care spending, and in lost productivity due to obesity, is estimated to be between $4.6 billion and $7.1 billion in Canada annually.
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