Obese children will die younger than their parents: report
March 27, 2007 - CBC News
About one-quarter of Canadians aged two to 17 are overweight or obese, and they are expected to live shorter lives than their parents, the Commons health committee warned Tuesday.
An all-party committee report titled Healthy Weight for Healthy Kids calls on the federal government to stop the trend toward increasing obesity levels among Canadian children by the 2010 Olympic Games in Vancouver, and to decrease levels by at least 25 per cent by 2020.
The excess weight puts children at risk of a range of preventable health problems, including Type 2 diabetes, susceptibility to heart attack and stroke, joint problems and mental health issues.
"It has been said that obesity outranks both smoking and drinking now in its effects on health and health costs," said committee chair Rob Merrifield, a Conservative MP for the Alberta riding of Yellowhead.
"For the first time in recorded history, today's younger generation will live shorter lives than their parents. Yet parents, and this is, I believe, the most alarming statistic that we found, do not recognize the problem."
According to a survey by the Canadian Medical Association, nine per cent of parents identified their children as being overweight or obese.
Rates among aboriginal children are worse, with 55 per cent living on reserves being overweight or obese, compared with 41 per cent for First Nations children living off reserves, said the report.
Children on reserves are also snacking on processed, high-sugar foods, but statistics suggest obesity levels go down considerably if one meal a day is made of traditional First Nations food, Merrifield said.
The report calls on the federal government to immediately:
"We have to change the paradigm so that it's unfashionable to overeat and it's very fashionable to exercise more," Merrifield said.
It will probably take a generation to change the culture, but it is possible, said Conservative MP Steven Fletcher, who sits on the committee.
In response to the report, non-profit consumer group Centre for Science in the Public Interest renewed its calls to limit commercially motivated pressures on children to eat, drink and be inactive.
The Commons committee's report called for a review of the food and beverage industry's self-regulation of their advertising to children.
Report reveals staggering child obesity numbers
Updated Tue. Mar. 27 2007 - ctv.ca
The childhood obesity "epidemic" means Canadian kids will, for the first time in recorded history, live shorter than their parents, warns a new report.
The Commons health committee report released Tuesday concludes 26 per cent of Canadians between the ages of two and 17 are overweight or obese, an increase of 15 per cent from 1978.
The staggering numbers show that on reserves, 55 per cent of First Nations children in that age group are considered grossly overweight.
The report, titled "Healthy Weights for Healthy Kids," says obesity outranks smoking and drinking in its impact on health and costs related to health-care.
"We're killing our kids with kindness," warned Conservative MP Rob Merrifield, chairman of the Commons health committee which produced the report after nine months of consultations.
The all-party report says Canada has one of the world's highest childhood obesity rates, ranking fifth among 34 countries that are a part of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).
The added weight is triggering higher rates of preventable life-threatening diseases such as diabetes and heart disease, while also causing joint problems and mental health issues, the committee says.
Children are consuming too many calories in fatty and processed foods and sugary drinks, and spending too much time in front of the TV and computer, MPs warn.
"The link between obesity and the increased consumption of sweetened drinks is particularly disturbing," the 60-page report says. "It has been estimated that sugary drinks may be responsible for as much as one pound per month weight gain in adolescents."
An even more disturbing figure was the fact that only nine per cent of parents recognized their children to be obese or overweight.
"This is the most alarming statistic we found, that they do not recognize the problem," Merrifield said.
The panel says the federal government must immediately ban trans-fats and launch a public awareness campaign to warn of the health care crisis.
The committee recommends changes take place at all levels, including at home, in schools, in the community and in advertising and media markets.
Other recommendations include:
The committee set 2010 as the target date for halting the rise of childhood obesity, the year Canada hosts the Winter Olympics.
"This is a year when all of Canada's attention will be focused on physical activity, the pride of Canada, our youth and healthy living," said Heart and Stroke Foundation CEO Sally Brown.
General obesity costs Canada about $1.6 billion a year in health-care costs. The panel said it costs the economy another $2.7 billion in lost productivity, disability insurance, reduced quality of life and mental health problems due to stigmatization and poor self-esteem.
With a report from CTV's Monica Matys and files from The Canadian Press