All Canadians Have a Role to Play to Beat the Obesity Crisis and the YMCA has Just the Help You Need
By Dale Rowe, General Manager, Barrie YMCA
In March 2016, the Canadian Senate published their report on obesity in Canada. This is not new information however the obesity situation is not getting better even with the vast amount of information on the topic. Consider this:
Each year 48,000 to 66,000 Canadians die from conditions linked to excess weight
Nearly two thirds of adults and one third of children are obese or overweight
For the first time in history, today’s youth will live shorter lives than their parents. Risk of death from obesity has surpassed heart disease (in 2015, 33,600 lives were lost to heart disease according to the Government of Canada). 37,000 people die each year in Canada as a result of smoking tobacco (Canadian Cancer Society). This is scary….but it doesn’t need to be, it’s preventable.
Inactivity and poor nutritional choices are ticking time bombs for Canadians. If the physical ramifications aren’t enough, there are financial ones too. The report highlights the costs – Obesity costs Canada between $4.6 billion and $7.1 billion annually in health care and lost productivity. This problem affects every Canadian in some way. Nutrition labelling is not easy to read, processed food is abundant, convenient and often cheap. The tool we have to use (Canada’s Food Guide) is not effective in guiding the average Canadian towards good health. Screen time and electronic devices are the biggest cause of inactivity.
The Senate report on Obesity is recommending taxing sugary / artificially sweetened drinks, banning advertising to children, making healthy foods affordable, using fiscal measures (like tax credits, etc), making nutritional labels easier to read and putting them on menus, and changing the food guide. The government is willing to work with doctors, health serving organizations, like the YMCA, and schools to help Canadians make better choices.
Dr. Mike Evans has an effective and easy solution. Can you limit your sitting and sleeping to 23 and half hours per day? In his presentation on 23 and a half hours, Dr Evans points out the research that exercise is the best intervention for your health. Exercise reduces progression of diabetes, joint pain, risk of alzheimers, depression, lower risk of death, and fatigue. Exercise increases bone density and improves your quality of life. Inactivity is the strongest predictor of death. All you need to do to start improving your health is 30 minutes of exercise per day. It can be broken up into 10 minute chunks and it can be as simple as walking at a brisk pace. If you aren’t sure how to get started, the YMCA can help. We foster an inclusive environment with expert coaching with over 150 years of experience and the encouragement you need to make good choices.
I agree with the measures the government is willing to take to make Canadians healthy but ultimately, the choice lies with each of us. For more information about ways to improve your health and physical activity, please visit www.ymcaofsimcoemuskoka.ca.