Canadian Journal of Public Health

Updating the Canadian Obesity Maps: An Epidemic in Progress

Carolyn C. Gotay, Peter T. Katzmarzyk, Ian Janssen, Marliese Y. Dawson, Khatereh Aminoltejari, Nicci L. Bartley

Abstract


OBJECTIVES: Obesity is a growing problem in Canada and worldwide. While obesity maps that convey changing rates over time and geography provide a useful way to convey such information, regional obesity surveillance maps for Canada have not been published since 1998. This research provides a summary of changing Canadian obesity rates since that time.

METHODS: We computed estimated obesity rates for provinces and territories across Canada from 2000 to 2011. Data were based on Canadian Community Health Survey and corrected for self-report bias. Data reporting the estimated percent of the adult population who are obese were mapped over time overall and by sex according to Canadian province and territory.

RESULTS: The data indicate that the estimated prevalence of obesity across Canada has continued to increase over the past 11 years. Current rates exceed 30% in the Maritime provinces (Newfoundland, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island) and in two territories (Northwest Territory, Nunavut). Data for men and women are generally consistent. The major increase in obesity appears to have occurred in the first part of this period, with relatively stable rates found from 2008 to 2011. However, obesity rates are still climbing, warranting continued surveillance efforts.

CONCLUSION: Maps showing changing regional obesity rates provide a compelling pan-Canadian portrait that can lead to an impetus for action for the public, health care providers, and decision makers. Such colour-coded maps offer an efficient way to convey complex data that transcends language differences and personalizes the data for the viewer.


Keywords


Canada/epidemiology; obesity/epidemiology; geography

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