Let’s be honest – very few of us enjoy stepping on the weigh scale. I avoid it like the plague – simply because I know that I should be a “few” pounds lighter. Until I started reading about healthy living, I had no idea that weight and obesity issues are so prevelant in Canada.
More than half of Canadians are overweight – meaning that they have a BMI (body mass index) of 25 to 29, or obese.
Obesity is increasing both in numbers and severity – obese is defined as having BMI of 30 and higher.
Obesity and overweight people cost the Canadian economy between $5 and $7 billion dollars every year – direct health care costs, and lost productivity of people.
Body Mass Index is a measure based on an individual’s mass and height, which can be used in conjunction with your age to be compared to others in your weight percentile.
For example: my BMI is 23.6 and my weight is at the 20th percentile compared to others of my age and height (so I can’t blame my short stature).
Doesn’t seem too bad, until you examine it closer.
The 20th percentile means that 80% of others in my height/age category weigh more than me, but my BMI of 23.6 is fairly close to the upper limit of the healthy weight range. Playing a bit with the calculator shows that a weight gain of just a few pounds would move me into the overweight category.
Medical care providers use BMI as a quick tool for assessment of your health. Adults with a BMI of 25 or higher are at increased risk of type 2 diabetes, heart disease, arthritis, high blood pressure, breathing difficulties and varicose veins.
Physical inactivity is a strong predictor of higher BMI – as are poor eating habits.
Sadly, this is a legacy we are passing onto our children. Roughly 1 in 11 Canadian children are considered obese. Too much screen-time and easier access to unhealthy foods are contributing factors. This rate has tripled since 1979, and it is shown that many adolescents do not outgrown the problem and they will continue to gain weight throughout adulthood.
KidsHealth website has some useful information about childhood weight, BMI and percentiles – click here.
Medical research shows that being overweight or obese shortens one’s expected lifespan by up to 7 years – good motivation for me to start being healthier and get active.