• Overview
  • Obesity prevalence
  • Trends over time
  • Population breakdowns
  • Drivers
  • Comorbidities
  • Health systems
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Obesity prevalence

Adults, 2017

Survey type:Measured
Age:18-79
Sample size:5071
Area covered:National
References:Canadian Health Measures Survey (CHMS) 2017. Available from: https://www150.statcan.gc.ca/t1/tbl1/en/tv.action?pid=1310037301&pickMembers%5B0%5D=3.3. [Accessed 21 February 2019].
Unless otherwise noted, overweight refers to a BMI between 25kg and 29.9kg/m², obesity refers to a BMI greater than 30kg/m².

Adults, 2007-2009

Survey type:Measured
Age:20-69
Sample size:3072
Area covered:National
References:Shields M, Tremblay MS, Laviolette M, Craig C, Janssen I and Connor Gorber S. Fitness of Canadian adults: Results from the 2007-2009 Canadian Health Measures Survey. Statistics Canada, Catalogue no. 82-003-XPE • Health Reports, Vol. 21, no. 1, March 2010
Notes:IASO age standardised data to World Standard Population
Unless otherwise noted, overweight refers to a BMI between 25kg and 29.9kg/m², obesity refers to a BMI greater than 30kg/m².

Adults, 2004

Survey type:Measured
Age:18+
Sample size:23985
Area covered:National
References:Tjepkema M. (2006). Adult obesity. Health Report, 17(3), 9 - 25.
Unless otherwise noted, overweight refers to a BMI between 25kg and 29.9kg/m², obesity refers to a BMI greater than 30kg/m².

Adults, 1992

Survey type:Measured
Age:20-69
Sample size:Not specified
References:Belanger-Ducharme F, Tremblay A. Prevalence of obesity in Canada. Obesity Reviews 2005;6:183-186
Unless otherwise noted, overweight refers to a BMI between 25kg and 29.9kg/m², obesity refers to a BMI greater than 30kg/m².

Adults, 1986-1992

Survey type:Measured
Age:18-74
Sample size:19841
References:Macdonald SM, Reeder BA, Chen Y, Despres JP. Obesity in Canada: a descriptive analysis. Can Med Assoc. 1997;157(Suppl 1):S3-S9
Unless otherwise noted, overweight refers to a BMI between 25kg and 29.9kg/m², obesity refers to a BMI greater than 30kg/m².

Adults, 1970

Survey type:Measured
Age:20-69
Sample size:Not specified
References:Belanger-Ducharme F, Tremblay A. Prevalence of obesity in Canada. Obesity Reviews 2005;6:183-186
Unless otherwise noted, overweight refers to a BMI between 25kg and 29.9kg/m², obesity refers to a BMI greater than 30kg/m².

Children, 2017

Survey type:Measured
Age:5-17
Sample size:5071
Area covered:National
References:Canadian Health Measures Survey (CHMS) 2017. Available from: https://www150.statcan.gc.ca/t1/tbl1/en/tv.action?pid=1310037301&pickMembers%5B0%5D=3.3. [Accessed 6 March 2019].
Notes:WHO cut-offs used.
Cutoffs:WHO

Children, 2012-2013

Survey type:Measured
Age:3-19
Sample size:2460
Area covered:National
References:Rodd, C. and Sharma, A.K. (2016) 'Recent trends in the prevalence of overweight and obesity among Canadian children', CMAJ, 188(13): E313-E320. Available at: http://www.cmaj.ca/content/188/13/E313
Notes:Overweight and obesity defined by WHO criteria
Cutoffs:WHO

Children, 2009-2011

Survey type:Measured
Age:5-17
Sample size:2123
Area covered:National
References:Roberts KC, Shields M, de Groh M et al. Overweight and obesity in children and adolescents: Results from the 2009-2011 Canadian Health Measures Survey. Statistics Canada 2012 (http://www.statcan.gc.ca/pub/82-003-x/2012003/article/11706-eng.pdf (last accessed 18th June 2015)
Notes:IOTF International Cut Off Points
Cutoffs:IOTF

Children, 2004

Survey type:Measured
Age:6-17
Sample size:6184
Area covered:National
References:Shields M. 2006. Overweight and obesity among children and youth. Health Reports 17(3), 28 - 44.
Notes:IOTF Cut off. Reference: Cole TJ, Bellizzi MC, Flegal KM, Dietz WH. Establishing a standard definition for child overweight and obesity worldwide: International survey. BMJ. 2000 May 6;320(7244):1240-3.
Cutoffs:IOTF

Overweight/obesity by education

Adults, 2004

Survey type:Measured
Age:25-64
Sample size:8383
Area covered:National
References:Canadian Community Survey 2004
Notes:Treat Post Secondary Obese figure with caution
Unless otherwise noted, overweight refers to a BMI between 25kg and 29.9kg/m², obesity refers to a BMI greater than 30kg/m².

Men, 2002-2003

Survey type:Self-reported
Age:18+
Sample size:2221
Area covered:National
References:Siddiqi A, Brown R, Nguyen QC, Loopstra R, Kawachi I. Cross-national comparison of socioeconomic inequalities in obesity in the United States and Canada. International Journal for Equity in Health. 2015;14:116. doi:10.1186/s12939-015-0251-2.
Notes:SELF REPORTED DATA
Unless otherwise noted, overweight refers to a BMI between 25kg and 29.9kg/m², obesity refers to a BMI greater than 30kg/m².

Women, 2002-2003

Survey type:Self-reported
Age:18+
Sample size:2221
Area covered:National
References:Siddiqi A, Brown R, Nguyen QC, Loopstra R, Kawachi I. Cross-national comparison of socioeconomic inequalities in obesity in the United States and Canada. International Journal for Equity in Health. 2015;14:116. doi:10.1186/s12939-015-0251-2.
Notes:SELF REPORTED DATA
Unless otherwise noted, overweight refers to a BMI between 25kg and 29.9kg/m², obesity refers to a BMI greater than 30kg/m².

Children, 2004

Survey type:Measured
Age:2-17
Sample size:8661
Area covered:National
References:Canadian Community Survey 2004
Notes:Treat Post Secondary Obese figure with caution IOTF International Cut off used
Cutoffs:IOTF

Overweight/obesity by age

Children, 2009-2011

Survey type:Measured
Sample size:2123
Area covered:National
References:Roberts KC, Shields M, de Groh M, Aziz A and Gilbert JA. Overweight and obesity in children and adolescents: Results from the 2009 to 2011 Canadian Health Measures Survey. Statistics Canada, Catalogue no. 82-003-XPE • Health Reports, Vol. 23, no. 3, September 2012
Notes:IOTF International Cut-off Points
Cutoffs:IOTF

Overweight/obesity by region

Men, 2014

Survey type:Self-reported
Age:18+
Area covered:National
References:Canadian Community Health Survey 2014, Statistics Canada http://www.statcan.gc.ca/tables-tableaux/sum-som/l01/cst01/health84b-eng.htm (accessed 27th Feb 2018)
Unless otherwise noted, overweight refers to a BMI between 25kg and 29.9kg/m², obesity refers to a BMI greater than 30kg/m².

Women, 2014

Survey type:Self-reported
Age:18+
Area covered:National
References:Canadian Community Health Survey 2014, Statistics Canada http://www.statcan.gc.ca/tables-tableaux/sum-som/l01/cst01/health84b-eng.htm (accessed 27th Feb 2018)
Unless otherwise noted, overweight refers to a BMI between 25kg and 29.9kg/m², obesity refers to a BMI greater than 30kg/m².

Adults, 2004

Survey type:Measured
Age:18+
Sample size:12428
Area covered:National
References:2004 Canadian Community Survey, Statistics Canada, Health Reports Vol 17 No 3, August 2006
Unless otherwise noted, overweight refers to a BMI between 25kg and 29.9kg/m², obesity refers to a BMI greater than 30kg/m².

Children, 2014

Survey type:Self-reported
Age:12-17
Area covered:National Survey
References:Canadian Community Health Survey 2014, Statistics Canada http://www.statcan.gc.ca/tables-tableaux/sum-som/l01/cst01/health84b-eng.htm (accessed 27th Feb 2018)
Notes:IOTF International Cut Off's Applied Some regions supplied % but results considered unreliable as sample too small
Cutoffs:IOTF

Overweight/obesity by socio-economic group

Men, 2002-2003

Survey type:Self-reported
Age:18+
Sample size:2221
Area covered:National
References:Siddiqi A, Brown R, Nguyen QC, Loopstra R, Kawachi I. Cross-national comparison of socioeconomic inequalities in obesity in the United States and Canada. International Journal for Equity in Health. 2015;14:116. doi:10.1186/s12939-015-0251-2.
Notes:SELF REPORTED DATA
Unless otherwise noted, overweight refers to a BMI between 25kg and 29.9kg/m², obesity refers to a BMI greater than 30kg/m².

Women, 2002-2003

Survey type:Self-reported
Age:18+
Sample size:2221
Area covered:National
References:Siddiqi A, Brown R, Nguyen QC, Loopstra R, Kawachi I. Cross-national comparison of socioeconomic inequalities in obesity in the United States and Canada. International Journal for Equity in Health. 2015;14:116. doi:10.1186/s12939-015-0251-2.
Notes:SELF REPORTED DATA
Unless otherwise noted, overweight refers to a BMI between 25kg and 29.9kg/m², obesity refers to a BMI greater than 30kg/m².

Children, 2004

Survey type:Measured
Age:2-17
Sample size:8661
Area covered:National
References:Canadian Community Survey 2004
Notes:Treat Low income figures with caution (see paper for full details) IOTF International Cut off used
Cutoffs:IOTF

Children, 2000-2001

Survey type:Self-reported
Age:5-17
Sample size:11455
Area covered:National
References:Oliver LN, Hayes MV. Neighbourhood socio-economic status and the prevalence of overweight Canadian children and youth. Can J Public Health. 2005 Nov-Dec;96(6):415-20
Notes:In this study, overweight (includes obese) and obese defined by cut-off points from Cole et al. Neighbourhood socioeconomic data were obtained from the Statistics Canada 2001 Dissemination Area databases and SES quartiles constructed using a composite of socio-economic variables.
Cutoffs:IOTF

Insufficient physical activity

Adults, 2016

References:Guthold R, Stevens GA, Riley LM, Bull FC. Worldwide trends in insufficient physical activity from 2001 to 2016: a pooled analysis of 358 population-based surveys with 1.9 million participants. Lancet 2018 http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/S2214-109X(18)30357-7

Men, 2016

References:Guthold R, Stevens GA, Riley LM, Bull FC. Worldwide trends in insufficient physical activity from 2001 to 2016: a pooled analysis of 358 population-based surveys with 1.9 million participants. Lancet 2018 http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/S2214-109X(18)30357-7

Women, 2016

References:Guthold R, Stevens GA, Riley LM, Bull FC. Worldwide trends in insufficient physical activity from 2001 to 2016: a pooled analysis of 358 population-based surveys with 1.9 million participants. Lancet 2018 http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/S2214-109X(18)30357-7

Children, 2010

Age:11-17
References:Global Health Observatory data repository, World Health Organisation, http://apps.who.int/gho/data/node.main.A893?lang=en
Notes:% of school going adolescents not meeting WHO recommendations on Physical Activity for Health, i.e. doing less than 60 minutes of moderate- to vigorous-intensity physical activity daily.
Definitions:% Adolescents insufficiently active (age standardised estimate)

Boys, 2010

Age:11-17
References:Global Health Observatory data repository, World Health Organisation, http://apps.who.int/gho/data/node.main.A893?lang=en
Notes:% of school going adolescents not meeting WHO recommendations on Physical Activity for Health, i.e. doing less than 60 minutes of moderate- to vigorous-intensity physical activity daily.
Definitions:% Adolescents insufficiently active (age standardised estimate)

Girls, 2010

Age:11-17
References:Global Health Observatory data repository, World Health Organisation, http://apps.who.int/gho/data/node.main.A893?lang=en
Notes:% of school going adolescents not meeting WHO recommendations on Physical Activity for Health, i.e. doing less than 60 minutes of moderate- to vigorous-intensity physical activity daily.
Definitions:% Adolescents insufficiently active (age standardised estimate)

Estimated per-capita fruit intake

Adults, 2017

Survey type:Measured
Age:25+
References:Global Burden of Disease, the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation http://ghdx.healthdata.org/
Definitions:Estimated per-capita fruit intake (g/day)

Estimated per-capita processed meat intake

Adults, 2017

Survey type:Measured
Age:25+
References:Global Burden of Disease, the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation http://ghdx.healthdata.org/
Definitions:Estimated per-capita processed meat intake (g per day)

Estimated per-capita whole grains intake

Adults, 2017

Survey type:Measured
Age:25+
References:Global Burden of Disease, the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation http://ghdx.healthdata.org/
Definitions:Estimated per-capita whole grains intake (g/day)

Mental health - depression disorders

Adults, 2015

References:Prevalence data from Global Burden of Disease study 2015 (http://ghdx.healthdata.org) published in: Depression and Other Common Mental Disorders: Global Health Estimates. Geneva:World Health Organization; 2017. Licence: CC BY-NC-SA 3.0 IGO.
Definitions:% of population with depression disorders

Mental health - anxiety disorders

Adults, 2015

References:Prevalence data from Global Burden of Disease study 2015 (http://ghdx.healthdata.org) published in: Depression and Other Common Mental Disorders: Global Health Estimates. Geneva:World Health Organization; 2017. Licence: CC BY-NC-SA 3.0 IGO.
Definitions:% of population with anxiety disorders

Oesophageal cancer

Men, 2018

Age:20+
References:Global Cancer Observatory, Cancer incidence rates http://gco.iarc.fr/ (last accessed 30th June 2020)
Definitions:Estimated age-standardized incidence rates (World) in 2018, oesophagus, adults ages 20+. ASR (World) per 100,000

Women, 2018

Age:20+
References:Global Cancer Observatory, Cancer incidence rates http://gco.iarc.fr/ (last accessed 30th June 2020)
Definitions:Estimated age-standardized incidence rates (World) in 2018, oesophagus, adults ages 20+. ASR (World) per 100,000

Breast cancer

Women, 2018

Age:20+
References:Global Cancer Observatory, Cancer incidence rates http://gco.iarc.fr/ (last accessed 30th June 2020)
Definitions:Estimated age-standardized incidence rates (World) in 2018, breast, females, ages 20+. ASR (World) per 100,000

Colorectal cancer

Men, 2018

Age:20+
References:Global Cancer Observatory, Cancer incidence rates http://gco.iarc.fr/ (last accessed 30th June 2020)
Definitions:Estimated age-standardized incidence rates (World) in 2018, colorectum, adults, ages 20+. ASR (World) per 100,000

Women, 2018

Age:20+
References:Global Cancer Observatory, Cancer incidence rates http://gco.iarc.fr/ (last accessed 30th June 2020)
Definitions:Estimated age-standardized incidence rates (World) in 2018, colorectum, adults, ages 20+. ASR (World) per 100,000

Pancreatic cancer

Men, 2018

Age:20+
References:Global Cancer Observatory, Cancer incidence rates http://gco.iarc.fr/ (last accessed 30th June 2020)
Definitions:Estimated age-standardized incidence rates (World) in 2018, pancreas, adults, ages 20+. ASR (World) per 100,000

Women, 2018

Age:20+
References:Global Cancer Observatory, Cancer incidence rates http://gco.iarc.fr/ (last accessed 30th June 2020)
Definitions:Estimated age-standardized incidence rates (World) in 2018, pancreas, adults, ages 20+. ASR (World) per 100,000

Gallbladder cancer

Men, 2018

Age:20+
References:Global Cancer Observatory, Cancer incidence rates http://gco.iarc.fr/ (last accessed 30th June 2020)
Definitions:Estimated age-standardized incidence rates (World) in 2018, gallbladder, adults, ages 20+. ASR (World) per 100,000

Women, 2018

Age:20+
References:Global Cancer Observatory, Cancer incidence rates http://gco.iarc.fr/ (last accessed 30th June 2020)
Definitions:Estimated age-standardized incidence rates (World) in 2018, gallbladder, adults, ages 20+. ASR (World) per 100,000

Kidney cancer

Men, 2018

Age:20+
References:Global Cancer Observatory, Cancer incidence rates http://gco.iarc.fr/ (last accessed 30th June 2020)
Definitions:Estimated age-standardized incidence rates (World) in 2018, kidney, adults, ages 20+. ASR (World) per 100,000

Women, 2018

Age:20+
References:Global Cancer Observatory, Cancer incidence rates http://gco.iarc.fr/ (last accessed 30th June 2020)
Definitions:Estimated age-standardized incidence rates (World) in 2018, kidney, adults, ages 20+. ASR (World) per 100,000

Cancer of the uterus

Women, 2018

Age:20+
References:Global Cancer Observatory, Cancer incidence rates http://gco.iarc.fr/ (last accessed 30th June 2020)
Definitions:Estimated age-standardized incidence rates (World) in 2018, cervix uteri, females, ages 20+. ASR (World) per 100,000

Raised blood pressure

Adults, 2015

References:Global Health Observatory data repository, World Health Organisation, http://apps.who.int/gho/data/node.main.A875?lang=en
Definitions:Age Standardised estimated % Raised blood pressure 2015 (SBP>=140 OR DBP>=90).

Men, 2015

References:Global Health Observatory data repository, World Health Organisation, http://apps.who.int/gho/data/node.main.A875?lang=en
Definitions:Age Standardised estimated % Raised blood pressure 2015 (SBP>=140 OR DBP>=90).

Women, 2015

References:Global Health Observatory data repository, World Health Organisation, http://apps.who.int/gho/data/node.main.A875?lang=en
Definitions:Age Standardised estimated % Raised blood pressure 2015 (SBP>=140 OR DBP>=90).

Raised cholesterol

Adults, 2008

References:Global Health Observatory data repository, World Health Organisation, http://apps.who.int/gho/data/node.main.A885
Definitions:% Raised total cholesterol (>= 5.0 mmol/L) (age-standardized estimate).

Men, 2008

References:Global Health Observatory data repository, World Health Organisation, http://apps.who.int/gho/data/node.main.A885
Definitions:% Raised total cholesterol (>= 5.0 mmol/L) (age-standardized estimate).

Women, 2008

References:Global Health Observatory data repository, World Health Organisation, http://apps.who.int/gho/data/node.main.A885
Definitions:% Raised total cholesterol (>= 5.0 mmol/L) (age-standardized estimate).

Raised fasting blood glucose

Men, 2014-2019

References:Global Health Observatory data repository, World Health Organisation, http://apps.who.int/gho/data/node.main.A869?lang=en
Definitions:Age Standardised % raised fasting blood glucose (>= 7.0 mmol/L or on medication).

Women, 2014-2019

References:Global Health Observatory data repository, World Health Organisation, http://apps.who.int/gho/data/node.main.A869?lang=en
Definitions:Age Standardised % raised fasting blood glucose (>= 7.0 mmol/L or on medication).

Diabetes prevalence

Adults, 2017

References:Reproduced with kind permission of IDF, International Diabetes Federation. IDF Diabetes Atlas, 8th edition. Brussels, Belgium: International Diabetes Federation, 2017. http://www.diabetesatlas.org
Definitions:Diabetes age-adjusted comparative prevalence (%).

Health systems

Economic classification: High Income

Health systems summary

The Canadian Health Act (CHA) was passed in 1984. The aim of the CHA was to ensure that all Canadian citizens had ‘free at the point of care’ for approved healthcare needs. Now, almost all Canadian’s healthcare is provided for by Medicare, a publicly funded, single-payer health care system. If a treatment is classified as ‘medically necessary’ it must be funded through the government funded Medicare system. Medicare plans, however, do not cover pharmaceuticals, home care or long-term care costs. These additional costs are required to be covered by supplementary health insurance.

Approximately 70% of total health expenditure is publicly sourced (primarily through general taxation). Around half of the remaining 30% come from out of pocket payments by patients.

Indicators

Where is the country’s government in the journey towards defining ‘Obesity as a disease’?No
Where is the country’s healthcare provider in the journey towards defining ‘Obesity as a disease’?Some progress
In practice, how is obesity treatment largely funded?Out of pocket
Is there specialist training available dedicated to the training of health professionals to prevent, diagnose, treat and manage obesity?Partial
Have any taxes or subsidies been put in place to protect/assist/inform the population around obesity?Partial
Are there adequate numbers of trained health professionals in specialties relevant to obesity in urban areas?No
Are there adequate numbers of trained health professionals in specialties relevant to obesity in rural areas?No
Are there any obesity-specific recommendations or guidelines published for adults?No
Are there any obesity-specific recommendations or guidelines published for children?No

Perceived barriers to treatment

  • Lack of training for healthcare professionals
  • Obesity not recognised as a disease
  • Lack of treatment facilities

Summary of stakeholder feedback

While the Canadian Medical Association classifies obesity as a disease, the Canadian Government does not. Official recognition of obesity as a chronic disease by the government would ensure that obesity was included within the chronic disease treatment portfolio so there would be more funds and incentives to treat.

Though the current health system should theoretically allow people with obesity to receive health care in a structured and systematic way, stakeholders suggest that obesity is not effectively managed within the current health system. The availability of treatment varies widely between provinces and territories, staff are inadequately trained and there is a lack of multi-disciplinary teams despite it being widely recognised by healthcare practitioners to be crucial for successful obesity management.

Stakeholders report that individuals often enter the system via the emergency room and then are not referred onto appropriate care. When they are referred onto care, the availability of weight loss programmes and bariatric treatments is inconsistent and often subject to long waiting times in the public sector (particularly for the latter). As a result, those that can afford to go abroad for bariatric treatment do so and much of the population use unregulated and expensive weight-loss service providers.

Stakeholders also reported that many health care practitioners feel ill-equipped to treat obesity and feel that existing government guidelines are outdated. It was highlighted however that the Canadian Task Force on Preventive Health Care published prevention, treatment and management guidelines for adults and children in primary care in 2015.

Based on interviews/survey returns from 4 stakeholders

Last updated: June 2020

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