Canada faces obesity epidemic

April 26, 2011 at 10:03 PM

MONTREAL, April 26 (UPI) -- Like their neighbors in the United States, Canadians have become heavier and less fit over the last three decades, doctors say.

Dr. Mark J. Eisenberg of the Jewish General Hospital says people ages 20-39 have a body mass index today that people age 40 or older had 30 years ago.

The 2007-2009 Canadian Health Measures Survey says more than 60 percent of adults were overweight or obese, with 24 percent being overweight and 37 percent obese. If the trend continues over the next 25 years, half of Canadians age 40 and older will be obese, Eisenberg says.

"Obesity is expected to surpass smoking as the leading cause of preventable morbidity and mortality," Eisenberg says in a statement. "Obesity reduces life expectancy by more than 10 years as a comorbidity with coronary artery disease, osteoarthritis, dyslipidemia, hypertension, stroke and type 2 diabetes."

In an article in Canadian Medical Association Journal, Eisenberg and colleagues suggest government-level interventions such as taxing junk food, improving serving size and nutritional labeling, banning certain foods and ingredients, and regulating sodium consumption.

"Although obesity has traditionally been conceptualized as a physical problem for physicians to treat, there is increasing awareness of the role that governments, corporations and educators can play in preventing and reducing obesity," the authors say.

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