The purpose of this review was to provide an overview of the public health burden of obesity in Canada. Based on nationally representative surveys that obtained measured heights and weights and that defined obesity using a body mass index (BMI) cutpoint of 30 kg/m(2), the prevalence of obesity in Canadian adults increased from 10% in 1970/72 to 26% in 2009/11. The prevalence of obesity in children has tripled since 1981, and based on the World Health Organization BMI growth standards, 12% of Canadian school-aged children were obese in 2009/11. At present, there are approximately 7 million obese adults and 600 000 obese school-aged children in Canada. Prevalence estimates based on waist circumference are even more troubling as they indicate that 37% of adults and 13% of youth are abdominally obese. Obesity is a major contributor to morbidity and mortality in the Canadian population. For instance, 61% to 74% of type 2 diabetes cases, 17% to 32% of osteoarthritis cases, 14% to 21% of colorectal cancers, 8% to 14% of depression cases, and 20% of premature deaths that occur in Canadian adults are estimated to be directly attributable to obesity. Obesity also places a large economic burden on the country. In 2006 obesity accounted for $3.9 billion in direct health care costs (e.g., hospitalizations, medications, physician and emergency room visits) and $3.2 billion in indirect costs (e.g., costs related to disability and lost productivity due to illness or premature death).
Keywords: Canada; body mass index; indice de masse corporelle; obesity; obésité; public health; périmètre abdominal; santé publique; waist circumference.
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