“In 2018, 26.8% of Canadians 18 and older (roughly 7.3 million adults) reported height and weight that classified them as having obesity. Another 9.9 million adults (36.3%) were classified as having overweight – bringing the total population with increased health risks due to excess weight to 63.1% in 2018. This was an increase from 2015 where 61.9% of Canadians aged 18 and older were living with overweight or obesity.
Obesity is a chronic disease that can increase the risk of certain health conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease. In 2018, the prevalence of type 2 diabetes was higher among Canadians who were living with obesity (13.4%) compared to Canadians with a normal weight (2.9%). Adults who had obesity were also more likely to be diagnosed with high blood pressure (29.5%) and heart disease (6.0%); among adults with a normal weight, the prevalence was 9.5% for high blood pressure and 2.7% for heart disease.” –Statistics Canada.
Adding to the challenge, individuals affected are often denied access to medical treatment as most insurance companies, employers and government do not recognize obesity as a disease.
Obesity Matters’s mission is to bring hope and empower Canadians affected by obesity through education, community and advocacy. This would involve working with stakeholders and our community to view obesity as a disease and influence payers, allowing for increased access to safe and effective medical treatment.
These stakeholders include the following:
- The Public Health Agency of Canada has included obesity as a risk for more severe COVID-19 disease or outcomes. This is an important step for the Government to take action for obesity as it does with other diseases. In addition, policymakers should collaborate with federal and provincial agencies, industry, individuals affected by obesity and communities to help reduce obesity rates and help everyone live healthier lives.
- Obesity can increase healthcare costs, absenteeism and workers compensation. Employers should take this into account and provide a comprehensive prevention and treatment benefit plan for their employees. This would include nutrition, physical activity and access to evidence-based medical care.
- Obesity should be recognized as a chronic disease and individuals living in larger bodies should have access to a comprehensive treatment approach for the prevention and management of obesity as they would for type 2 diabetes, hypertension and sleep apnea.
In addition, the availability of fast foods and commercial weight loss programs need to be regulated with the availability of wholesome, nutritious meals in our schools and communities.
This is why it is so important to champion the development and delivery of safe and effective treatments and health care resources in Canada.