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What if all regions in BC followed BC’s healthiest regions?

Which regions in BC were the healthiest regions? Prevalence rates of excess weight, tobacco smoking and physical inactivity vary substantially by geographical region within British Columbia (BC). The purpose of this study was to determine the potential reduction in economic burden in BC if all regions in the province achieved prevalence rates of these three risk factors equivalent to those of the region with the lowest rates.

Regional Variations in the Economic Burden attributable to Excess Weight, Physical Inactivity and Tobacco Smoking across British Columbia

healthiest British Columbians article


Krueger H, Koot JM, Rasali DP, Gustin SE, Pennock M. 2016. Health Promotion and Chronic Disease Prevention in Canada. Vol 36:4.

Excess Weight

In British Columbia in 2013, the economic burden due to excess weight ($2.6 billion) was higher than for tobacco smoking ($2.0 billion) or physical inactivity ($1.0 billion). 

British Columbia's Healthiest Regions

Which region of BC had the healthiest people?

There was considerable variation across the health regions in British Columbia: 

The prevalence of excess weight was the lowest in the Vancouver Health Services Delivery Area (i.e.HSDA) at 29.5%. The highest level of excess weight was recorded in the Northwest HSDA, at 56.7%.

​The prevalence of physical inactivity was the lowest in Kootney Boundary HSDA at  27.1%, contrasted with a to a high of 43.8% in the Fraser North HSDA.

The prevalence of tobacco smoking was the lowest in the Richmond HSDA at 8.8%. In comparison, tobacco smoking was at a high of 21.3% in the Northeast HSDA.

healthiest British Columbians


If all Regions Followed the Example of the Healthiest Regions we could save ​$1.4 Billion

Reducing the prevalence of excess weight, physical inactivity and tobacco smoking in all the health regions to that of the region with the lowest rates would lower the total annual economic burden by one quarter, from $5.6 billion to $4.2 billion. Specifically, if all HSDAs were to achieve the best prevalence rates for the three risk factors, then $1362 million in economic burden could be avoided annually, comprising $450 million in direct costs and $912 million in indirect costs.​

Media Response

Rates of smoking, overweight and inactivity vary greatly across B.C., with some regions like the Northwest producing a per capita economic burden twice that found in the less costly regions such as Richmond.


Jayson Maclean 
Cantech Letter