If you read the front page of our major newspapers or watch the news you will see that the death rate from cancer had substantially increased or that the mortality rate had risen.

Obesity in CanadaIt was reported that Canadians are less obese and overweight than Americans in studies that began in the early 1960s. Today, almost 30% of American adults are obese, compared to 23% of Canadians, while another 33%  of North Americans are considered overweight.

These numbers have risen drastically since 1978, and so has the incidence of serious health problems.

It has been the conclusion of many studies that obesity is more prevalent among developed countries, as opposed to undeveloped countries. There has been a large increase in obesity among young Canadians, and it was reported that 25% of seniors over 75 are obese. Older adults are spending less time on leisure time physical activity than ever before. North American women also partake in less physical activity than men.

The cause of obesity has been linked to genetic and environmental factors. However, studies have shown that genetic factors are less likely to contribute to obesity, while the major cause has been linked to our environment.

Over the past three decades, due to the technology revolution, North Americans have been continually exposed to an environment that promotes fast foodsand a sedentary lifestyle due to excessive TV, computer and electronic entertainment. This lifestyle diminishes the amount of physical activity needed to promote healthy living.

Of great concern to all of us is the effect that adult obesity is having on our nation’s children. In a report on child obesity by the Ontario Medical Association, obesity among children was stated as becoming a public health problem, as the number of overweight children is increasing at an alarming rate due to poor eating habits and a lack of exercise.

The report says that parents, schools and our government are failing to protect children from this growing health epidemic, and that the number of obese children has doubled in the last 20 years.

Obesity as it relates to the health risk to children can no longer be ignored. The medical and social implications of childhood obesity are severe, as evidenced by the presence of Type II diabetes, high blood pressure, low self esteem and depression. Doctors warn that we may be raising the first generation of children with a shorter life expectancy than their parents.

A misconception is that parents believe their children will outgrow obesity, but the facts do not support this view. Obese children will become obese adults. The Ontario Medical Association also suggests that schools return to mandatory structured physical education, and that all advertising related to junk food directed at kids be banned from schools.