Canada has seen a dramatic increase in all levels of obesity, with the most extreme form — class III obesity — up 225 percent between 1990 and 2003. The research behind those figures shows that Canada is only about three to four years behind the United States in terms of obesity rates, proving it ain’t just us U.S. folks who are battling the bulge and hunkered down on the couch.
Researchers in Canada have drawn together information from seven national surveys on obesity levels, conducted between 1985 and 2003, revealing specific trends in the increase in each class of obesity over the past few decades. Published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal, the findings were described as not unexpected; still, they continue to put mounting pressure on the food industry, which is held partly responsible for the mounting obesity epidemic.
“The increases in prevalence of overweight and all levels of obesity in Canada between 1985 and 2003 are cause for concern given the markedly increased risk of premature death and of metabolic and musculoskeletal complications arising from morbid obesity,” the researchers concluded.Â
Using 2003 updated guidelines for body weight classification from Health Canada, Peter Katzmarzyk and Caitlin Mason from Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario, revealed that general obesity prevalence, measured by a body mass index (BMI) of over 30, more than doubled in the time period, from 6.1 percent to 15.7 percent.
The number of Canadians with class I obesity, measured by a BMI of 30-35, also increased significantly, from 5.1 percent to 11.5 percent. Class II obesity, or a BMI of 35-40, increased from 0.8 percent to 3 percent.
The increase in girth isn’t just among the obese or grossly obese, but among those who just are what is kindly called “overweight.” Canadians classified as overweight have also increased, from 27.8 percent of the population to almost 34 percent. But the researchers pointed out that because their findings were drawn from population surveys, “our estimates are likely to be conservative, since people tend to underestimate their own weight.”
It seems to be the case when compared to data published by the 2004 Canadian Community Health Survey. It shows the prevalence of directly measured class II and III obesity were 5.1 percent and 2.7 percent, respectively, whileÂ results from the population surveys place these figures at 3 percent and 1.3 percent.