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What should we do about the economic burden of excess weight?

Dr Hans Krueger wrote this editorial for Health Promotion and Chronic Disease Prevention in Canada, an online scientific journal published by the Public Health Agency of Canada.

Editorial: The Weight of our Nation

Editorial: The weight of our nation


Krueger H. 2017. Health Promotion and Chronic Disease Prevention in Canada. Vol 37 No 2 February

The Economic Burden of Excess Weight

Excess Weight is a leading cause of type 2 diabetes in Canada

  • 62% of type 2 diabetes is attributable to excess weight.
  • 18% is attributable to physical inactivity.
  • 8% is attributable to tobacco smoking.

Are Canadians showing any changes in lifestyle choices?

Dr Krueger referred to Canadian Community Health Survey data from 2001 to 2014 for Canadians aged 20 to 64. Indeed, Canadians have made some positive lifestyle changes.

Positive Changes:

  • Tobacco smoking was reduced from 24.8% to 16.2%.
  • Physical inactivity was reduced from 55% to 47%.

Excess Weight has remained the biggest challenge

During the same time period, obesity has increased from 15.3% to 20.6%. This is a total of 4,557,000 Canadians. Most importantly, the prevalence of individuals with the highest levels of obesity has more than doubled. Both the health and economic burdens associated with obesity increase dramatically as weight increases.

man with excess weight

In the editorial, Dr Krueger highlighted the successful strategies that have been used to reduce tobacco smoking in Canada. Cessation efforts have spanned the past 60 years, and have encompassed taxation, advertising and clinical practice.

The economic burden of excess weight in Canadians increased by 24% between 2000 and 2015. Comprehensive long term strategies are needed.