Instagram would have you believe that we all live super-optimized healthy lives now – perhaps more so than at any other point in history. Except that’s not true. At all.
In 2017, 64 per cent (!) of Canadians were overweight or obese. And it certainly hasn’t always been like that. In 1978, around 14 per cent of Canadian adults were considered obese. In 2014, that number doubled to 28 per cent. Nearly 1 in 10 Canadians live with diabetes. The rate of heart disease is almost as alarming (1 in 12).
“I’m really quite concerned about the rate of persons having obesity,” says Canada’s chief public health officer, Dr. Theresa Tam. We all should be.
So, what the hell?
Experts point to a more poisonous food environment as the main contributor to the epidemic. This includes a saturation of unhealthy food choices, peer pressure to consume and over-indulge, and a radical increase in the size of food portions.
That’s why a hands-on federal approach – enhanced food labelling, banning trans fats, restrictions on food advertising to children, and the so-called “sugar tax” on beverages – to the issue is being championed by many health professionals. While individuals should bear a degree a responsibility for what they put in their bodies, not everyone has the capacity (or money) to change their habits. As the Government of Canada points out, “some of the factors that contribute to obesity (like diet, sleep, mental health and well-being, etc.) are impacted by income level.”
Furthermore, only 22.2% of Canadian adults get enough physical exercise (we spent almost 10 hours a day performing sedentary activities). And that’s really not something we should expect the government to help us with.
The highest rate of obesity is observed in Cape Breton, where it is almost 18 per cent higher than the national average. The lowest, meanwhile, can be found in Fraser North, where it is 7 per cent lower than the national average.