Getty Images A man walks along the Embarcadero April 6, 2005 in San Francisco.

Obesity rates are at an all-time high in Canada, but Victoria residents appear to be watching their figures.

According to a report out of the University of British Columbia, Canadian waistlines have been growing steadily since 2000. More than 25 per cent of Canadians now have a body mass index of 30 or greater, qualifying them as obese.

“Being obese or overweight significantly increases the risk of chronic illnesses, such as heart disease, diabetes, and some cancers,” wrote UBC’s Dr. Carolyn Gotay. “Our analysis shows that more Canadians are obese than ever before — on average, between one fourth and one third of Canadians are obese, depending on the region.”

The Maritimes and the northern Territories had the highest rates, with approximately one in three residents falling into the obese category. British Columbia had the lowest, but still saw a five per cent increase over the last decade.

According to Statistics Canada, 14.2 per cent of men and 12 per cent of women in Victoria are obese. That’s lower than the national average of 18 per cent, but still higher than our counterparts in the Lower Mainland. Only eight per cent of women and 13 per cent of men in Vancouver self-report as obese.

To illustrate their findings, Gotay and her colleagues created an obesity map (shown below), charting the changes to provincial obesity rates over time.

Figure-1-Total-Population

“Maps that use colours and well-known geographical depictions are an efficient way to convey complex data that transcends language differences and personalizes the data for the viewer,” Gotay said. “This information can provide an impetus for action for the public, health care providers, and decision makers.”

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