Santé Estrie responds to Fraser Institute study
According to the World Health Organization, there is a global obesity epidemic. In two decades, obesity and excess weight has increased rapidly in most developed countries and in some developing countries.
In Quebec, the proportion of overweight people went from 35.5 % in 1987 to 50.5% in 2011-2012. The average weight of the population has gone from 25.1 kilograms per square meter, in 2001, to 25.7 kilograms per square meter in 2012, showing a weight
increase in the entire population (people of all ages).
These facts were gathered from people who supplied the information themselves; however, scientific studies show that this method results in underestimating the situation.
Excess weight and obesity are the symptoms of two recent situations: a decrease in the amount of exercise people get and a change in eating habits. A recent study of Quebec high school students (20102011) shed some light on these facts. In Quebec, 83% of youth between 12 and 17 years of age do not get the minimal amount of exercise needed to remain healthy: at least one hour per day. Two thirds of this same age group do not eat the recommended number of portions of fruit and vegetables daily, and only 60% eat breakfast every day. One third of the teenagers studied drank unhealthy beverages and ate junk food daily, and only a little more than half of them had not eaten junk food for lunch dur- ing the week before the study. The effects of these lifestyle habits will be seen for decades to come and so should be carefully considered.
Being overweight increases the risk of diabetes and heart disease. The proportion of Quebec adults diagnosed with diabetes has increased from 5.2% to 8.8% between 2001 and 2011. Quebec adults with high blood pressure went from 15.8% to 20.3% between 2000 and 2007.
The consequences of being overweight are serious but avoidable. Eating properly and exercising regularly can prevent or manage chronic illness. Two thirds of all cancers can be avoided with a healthy lifestyle. But it’s difficult to eat well if we are always faced with unhealthy food choices and it is hard to get more exercise when everything is organized to avoid all physical effort. For these reasons, a change in environment is needed such as what kind of food is easily available.