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NEWS RELEASE · 8th March 2011
Ministry of Health Services
Childhood obesity rates have almost tripled in the last 25 years. To combat that trend and engage Canadians to find a solution, governments across Canada have launched Our Health Our Future, a national dialogue that will make recommendations for action.

All British Columbians - especially youth, parents and caregivers - are encouraged to contribute to the conversation. There are various opportunities to get involved and share your ideas on reducing childhood obesity.

* Visit the website at: While there, you can post ideas, vote on your favourite suggestions, and commit to taking action in your own life. You can also access the website or post your own suggestions via Facebook.

* Attend an in-person dialogue to voice your thoughts. Dialogues will be held across the country. In British Columbia, dates and locations are being finalized. For more details and up-to-date information, visit:

Our Health Our Future is a key step in implementing Curbing Childhood Obesity: A Federal, Provincial and Territorial Framework for Action on Healthy Weights. The framework was adopted by the federal, provincial and territorial ministers of health in September 2010 and is part of a broader approach to healthy living, which includes federal, provincial and territorial work to reduce sodium consumption.

The childhood obesity framework is the first initiative to be implemented under the national Declaration on Prevention and Promotion, endorsed by ministers in September 2010. British Columbia played a key role in championing and supporting the national declaration. B.C.'s provincial health officer, Dr. Perry Kendall, is the co-lead in developing this strategy, along with his federal Health Canada counterpart, Dr. Paul Gully.

Through the framework, ministers responsible for health, as well as their colleagues in sport, physical activity and recreation, have agreed to make childhood obesity a collective priority and to champion this issue, to help create the conditions for healthy weights so that children have the healthiest possible start in life.

As a result of the website feedback and in-person dialogues, a report and recommendations for action will be put together, to be presented to the meeting of federal, provincial and territorial health ministers in November 2011.


* Dr. Perry Kendall, provincial health officer, British Columbia:

"Unless we take action now, this generation of young people could be the first to have shorter life expectancies than their parents. I encourage all British Columbians - young and old - to visit the website and submit their ideas, and commit to making positive, healthy changes in their own lives."

* Colin Hansen, Minister of Health Services, government of British Columbia:

"Here in B.C., we have the healthiest population in the country, but there is more we should be doing. I am proud that B.C. has been a leader in moving this strategy forward, and look forward to hearing from British Columbians."

* Honourable Leona Aglukkaq, Minister of Health, Government of Canada:

"I'm very excited to roll out this national dialogue with my colleagues. This is a groundbreaking event, bringing together for the first time in Canada a broad and diverse group of people to identify actions to this issue. Everyone has a role to play in helping children and youth live a healthy life."

Quick Facts:

* Evidence shows that if British Columbians exercised for 30 minutes a day, controlled their weight, ate reasonably well and refrained from smoking - they could reduce their risk factors for most chronic disease by up to 80 per cent.

* About 2,000 British Columbians die prematurely every year due to obesity-related illnesses such as heart disease, high blood pressure and diabetes.

* Obese Canadians are four times more likely to have diabetes, 3.3 times more likely to have high blood pressure and 56 per cent more likely to have heart disease than those with healthy weights. Obese individuals are 50 to 100 per cent more likely to die prematurely from all causes than those with healthy weights.

* British Columbia has the lowest adult overweight and obesity rates in Canada at about 45 per cent.

* Childhood overweight and obesity rates are rising in Canada. Obesity rates in children have almost tripled in the last 25 years.

* Approximately 26 per cent of Canadian children aged two to 17 years are currently overweight or obese.

* In British Columbia, 51,000 children (seven per cent) aged two to 17 years were classified as obese and 138,500 (20 per cent) as overweight.

* Childhood overweight and obesity in British Columbia is an issue nearing crisis proportions according to the Province's Select Standing Committee on Health.

* Around 30 per cent of Canadian youth aged 12 to 17 years old are classified as overweight or obese. British Columbia has the lowest incidence of childhood obesity in the country. However, British Columbia is in the middle of the pack when assessing the levels of overweight children in Canada.

* According to the American Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, overweight school-aged children are 50 per cent more likely to become obese adults, with overweight adolescents 70 to 80 per cent more likely to become overweight adults. As obese adults, today's overweight children will display much higher rates of hypertension, diabetes, heart disease, renal failure, amputations, blindness, cancer, and mental-health problems.

* British Columbians consume about 3,300 mg of sodium per day, more than twice the recommended intake for adults. Excess sodium is linked to 30 per cent of all cases of hypertension, a major risk factor for heart attack and stroke. Almost 40 per cent of Canadian adults have high blood pressure or are pre-hypertensive.

* Reducing average sodium intake to 1,500 mg/day would prevent over 23,500 cardiovascular events per year in Canada and generate direct health-care savings of $1.38 billion per year and indirect savings of $2.99 billion per year.

* In September 2010, federal, provincial and territorial ministers of health and healthy living (except Quebec) adopted the Sodium Working Group's interim goal of reducing the sodium intake of Canadians to a population average of 2,300 mg/day for persons aged nine to 50 years by 2016 (less for those younger and older).