RISING OBESITY RATES POSE A GROWING RISK TO CANADIAN HEALTH

OTTAWA, May 30, 2011 /CNW/ - Canada's rising obesity rates may affect its future health performance relative to that of its peer countries, according to a Conference Board analysis (http://www.conferenceboard.ca/hcp/hot-topics/lifestyleHealth.aspx) released today.

In 2008, over half of Canada's population was considered to be either overweight or obese and almost one quarter was obese, according to body mass index (BMI) estimates.

"Lifestyle choices such as smoking, poor eating habits, and physical inactivity affect a country's health outcomes and increase health expenditures," said Sheila Rao, Senior Research Associate. "Obesity is a major risk factor for many chronic conditions, including cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, cancer, and hypertension. Despite improvements in medical treatments, the number of deaths due to diabetes has increased over the past few decades. Both hypertension and diabetes are becoming increasingly prevalent."

In 2009, six per cent of the Canadian population reported having diabetes, up from 4.6 per cent in 2003. The mortality rate due to diabetes has been on an upward trend since the 1980s. Canada has the third-highest mortality rate due to diabetes among its peers.

Deaths from heart disease continue to fall in Canada, but the number of surgical treatments performed, such as angioplasties and coronary bypass surgeries is higher now than it was in the 1990s—an indication of the increase in the prevalence of heart disease. The number of bypass surgeries being performed has leveled off, as angioplasties are increasingly being done as an alternative procedure.

One bright spot related to Canadian lifestyle choices is the decline in tobacco consumption, which has been steadily falling since the 1960s. Canada has one of the lowest smoking rates among its peer countries and deaths due to lung cancer continue to decline.

Lifestyle choices such as smoking, inactivity and lack of exercise clearly affect the health of the population. But so do socio-economic factors—like poverty, income inequality, crime, education, and the environment.

How Canada Performs (http://www.conferenceboard.ca/hcp/default.aspx) is a multi-year research program at The Conference Board of Canada to help leaders identify relative strengths and weaknesses in Canada's socio-economic performance. The How Canada Performs website presents data and analysis on Canada's performance compared to 16 peer countries in six performance categories: Economy, Innovation, Environment, Education and Skills, Health, and Society. This year, the Conference Board is assessing Canada's performance on 10 Hot Topics (http://www.conferenceboard.ca/hcp/hot-topics/default.aspx).

SOURCE CONFERENCE BOARD OF CANADA

For further information:

Brent Dowdall, Media Relations, Tel.: 613- 526-3090 ext.  448
E-mail: corpcomm@conferenceboard.ca

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