Almost one-third of Canadian children and adolescents are overweight or obese, according to a study published by Statistics Canada.
Basing the study on data collected from 2009 to 2011, Statscan found that among children aged 5 to 17, 19.8 percent are overweight and 11.7 percent are obese. The study authors used the World Health Organization cut-off values in coming up with the rates.
The percentage of overweight children was similar across age groups, but was unbalanced between boys and girls, with 15.1 percent of boys considered obese while only 8 percent of girls fell into this category.
The unbalance was even more pronounced among 5- to 11-year-olds, with the percentage of obese boys (19.5 percent) being three times the percentage of obese girls (6.3 percent).
The study authors say these high rates present a public health concern, as overweight children tend to become overweight adults, and are likely to have other health and social complications.
“Excess weight in childhood has been linked to insulin resistance, type 2 diabetes, hypertension, poor emotional health, and diminished social well-being,” say the authors, citing research in this field.
The issue of overweight and obesity among children has become more pronounced since the 1970s, the study said, noting however that the estimates in recent years have largely remained the same.
“Although these estimates have not changed significantly in recent years, more data points are needed to determine if the pace of increase in prevalence is slowing, as has been observed in some countries,” the report concludes.
“Regardless, the estimates remain high and are a public health concern, given the tendency for excess weight in childhood to persist through to adulthood.”
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