Obesity Rates Triple in Canada Over 25 Years

Dr. Laurie K. Twells, PhD School of Pharmacy, Memorial University, St. John’s Faculty of Medicine, Memorial University St. John’sNewfoundland and LabradorMedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Dr. Laurie K. Twells, PhD
School of Pharmacy, Memorial University, St. John’s
Faculty of Medicine, Memorial University
St. John’s Newfoundland and Labrador

MedicalResearch.com: What are the main findings of the study?

Dr. Twells: Obesity rates in Canada tripled between 1985 and 2011. Although class I obesity (BMI ≥ 30) appears to have increased at a slower rate, obese classes II (BMI ≥  35) and III (BMI ≥40) continued to increase disproportionately. Over the last decade, every province in Canada experienced increases in obesity rates. Overall obesity rates were lower in the west and higher in the eastern provinces and people over age 40 years were more likely to be overweight/obese than younger people. By 2019 it is projected that twenty-one per cent of Canadians will be obese but this will vary by province from 15.7% in British Columbia to 34.6% in Newfoundland and Labrador.

MedicalResearch.com: Were any of the findings unexpected?

Dr. Twells: The provincial comparisons in Canada were interesting and presenting the data in this format uncovered the differences in obesity rates (current and predicted) across the country. The predicted prevalence rates for some provinces are very concerning given the health system burden and impact on quality of life associated with being in the excessive weight categories.

MedicalResearch.com: What should clinicians and patients take away from your report?

Dr. Twells:  In Canada, the number of individuals with a BMI greater than 35 and 40 are predicted to increase over the next five years. These individuals are at a much higher risk of developing serious comorbid conditions such as hypertension, dyslipidemia, diabetes, reporting impaired quality of life and dying prematurely. Clinicians will need to be resourced to manage and treat affected individuals effectively.

MedicalResearch.com: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?

Dr. Twells: One area for future research is the need to help explain why such significant inter-provincial variations exist in Canada. This might include a focus on evaluating existing provincial policies, programs and approaches to the prevention, management and treatment of obesity. For example, provincial variation exists in the provision of bariatric surgery, the training or lack of training of health professionals in weight management and in patient access to other types of expertise in weight loss such as dieticians and psychologists. There is the potential in Canada for provinces to share effective practices to improve the overall health of the country.


Current and predicted prevalence of obesity in Canada: a trend analysis

Laurie K. Twells PhD, Deborah M. Gregory PhD, Jacinta Reddigan MSc, William K. Midodzi PhD
cmajo 2:E18E26; published online March 3, 2014, doi:10.9778/cmajo.20130016

Last Updated on March 4, 2014 by Marie Benz MD FAAD