The Canadian adult obesity rate is continuing to rise, according to new data released by Statistics Canada.
The weight gain per province sees Saskatchewan at the top of the chart for having the highest rate of obesity in Canada. This is based on the studied adults' body mass index (BMI).
The BMI isn't the best tool to measure health though, as it looks at weight in relation to height and then classifies people accordingly. It is tough to get anaccurate reading as different people may carry more or less fat in certain areas, this is known as fat distribution.
If your BMI suggests that you are overweight, it would be a good idea to have your doctor do further testing.
Saskatchewan has Canada’s highest obesity rate, with 45.9 per cent of adults falling into that category. British Columbia has the lowest rate of adult obesity, at 21.4 per cent.
Saskatchewan’s obesity rate has climbed very quickly, growing from 30.8 per cent to 45.9 per cent between 2004 and 2015. This allowed it to overtake Newfoundland and Labrador, where the percentage of obese adults grew from 33.9 to 38.9 per cent in 11 years.
However, Newfoundland and Labrador still have a higher proportion of adults above a normal BMI. Nearly 78 per cent of the adult population qualifies as overweight or obese. Overall, 61.3 per cent of all adult Canadians fit into those two categories.
"You could distill them down to five major things," said Dr. Lanre Medu, Medical Health Officer for the Sun Country Health Region. "One being physical activity. There has been evidence that lower levels of physical activity can increase a person's chance of developing obesity. Another is how much screen time we are getting. This is an issue that is growing rapidly with the increase in technology. It is important to limit the amount of screen time that children are getting each day. It is recommended to keep this number down below two hours per day. Another risk that goes along with watching too much television is the fact that people will eat many high calorie snacks while they take in various entertainment. Another problem is that many people can't afford the healthier options that they need. This can cause them to buy cheap items that contain high calories and dangerous ingredients that cause many other health problems. The last major contributing factor is the person's environment. In some communities it isn't common to walk or bike to locations, resulting in the majority driving everywhere instead. The environment may also promote eating more fast foods and less natural foods like fruits and vegetables."
Another factor that contributes greatly to a person's overall health and body weight is how much sleep they get.
"How much sleep we get is something we don't think effects our health as much as it does," added Medu. "For children aged six to 13 it is recommended to get nine to 11 hours of sleep. As they get older, 14 to 17 they should get eight to 10 hours of sleep time. Adults can handle less but they should still be getting seven to nine hours of sleep to achieve optimal health."
Making healthy choices isn't easy if you are working multiple jobs just to put food on the table for your family or if you live several hours away from the nearest reasonably priced grocery store with fresh produce.
To set yourself up for success, think about planning a healthy diet as a number of small, manageable steps—like adding a salad to your diet once a day—rather than one big drastic change. As your small changes become habit, you can continue to add more healthy choices.
Prepare more of your own meals. Cooking more meals at home can help you take charge of what you’re eating and better monitor exactly what goes into your food. You’ll eat fewer calories and avoid the chemical additives, added sugar, and unhealthy fats of packaged and takeout foods that can leave you feeling tired, bloated, and irritable, and exacerbate symptoms of depression, stress, and anxiety.
Make the right changes. When cutting back on unhealthy foods in your diet, it’s important to replace them with healthy alternatives. Replacing dangerous trans fats with healthy fats (such as switching fried chicken for grilled salmon) will make a positive difference to your health. Switching animal fats for refined carbohydrates, though (such as switching your breakfast bacon for a donut), won’t lower your risk for heart disease or improve your mood.
Simplify. Instead of being overly concerned with counting calories, think of your diet in terms of color, variety, and freshness. Focus on avoiding packaged and processed foods and opting for more fresh ingredients.
Read the labels. It’s important to be aware of what’s in your food as manufacturers often hide large amounts of sugar or unhealthy fats in packaged food, even food claiming to be healthy.
Focus on how you feel after eating. This will help foster healthy new habits and tastes. The healthier the food you eat, the better you’ll feel after a meal. The more junk food you eat, the more likely you are to feel uncomfortable, nauseous, or drained of energy.
Drink plenty of water. Water helps flush our systems of waste products and toxins, yet many of us go through life dehydrated. This causes tiredness, low energy, and headaches. It’s common to mistake thirst for hunger, so staying well hydrated will also help you make healthier food choices.
Try not to think of certain foods as “off-limits.” When you ban certain foods, it’s natural to want those foods more, and then feel like a failure if you give in to temptation. Start by reducing portion sizes of unhealthy foods and not eating them as often. As you reduce your intake of unhealthy foods, you may find yourself craving them less or thinking of them as only occasional indulgences.
Think smaller portions. Serving sizes have ballooned recently. When dining out, choose a starter instead of an entree, split a dish with a friend, and don't order supersized anything. At home, visual cues can help with portion sizes. Your serving of meat, fish, or chicken should be the size of a deck of cards and half a cup of mashed potato, rice, or pasta is about the size of a traditional light bulb. By serving your meals on smaller plates or in bowls, you can trick your brain into thinking it’s a larger portion. If you don't feel satisfied at the end of a meal, add more leafy greens or round off the meal with fruit.
Take your time. It actually takes a few minutes for your brain to tell your body that it has had enough food, so eat slowly and stop eating before you feel full.
Eat with others whenever possible. Eating alone, especially in front of the TV or computer, often leads to mindless overeating.
It's not just what you eat, but also when you eat.
Eat breakfast, and eat smaller meals throughout the day. A healthy breakfast can jumpstart your metabolism, while eating small, healthy meals (rather than the standard three large meals) keeps your energy up all day.
Avoid eating late at night. Try to eat dinner earlier and fast for 14-16 hours until breakfast the next morning. Studies suggest that eating only when you’re most active and giving your digestive system a long break each day may help to regulate weight.