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Obesity in Canada

Obesity is a chronic and often progressive condition, similar to diabetes or high blood pressure. Obesity is characterized by excess body fat that can threaten or affect your health. Many organizations including the Canadian Obesity Network, the Canadian Medical Association, the American Medical Association and the World Health Organisation now consider obesity to be a chronic disease. 

One in four adult Canadians and one in 10 children have clinical obesity, meaning six million Canadians living with obesity may require immediate support in managing and controlling their weight. As a leading cause of type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, arthritis and cancer, the condition impacts those who have obesity, their families, employers, neighbours, health practitioners and governments.

The impact of weight bias and stigma against people with obesity is comparable to that of racial discrimination, and it’s just as common. Obesity stigma translates into significant inequities in employment, health, health care and education, often due to widespread negative stereotypes that persons with obesity are lazy, unmotivated or lacking in self‐discipline.

A 2010 report estimated that direct costs of overweight and obesity represented $6 billion – 4.1 % of Canada’s total health care budget. However, this estimate only accounts for health care costs related to obesity, and does not account for productivity loss, reductions in tax revenues or psychosocial costs. 

Comprehensive public, private and non-governmental initiatives on obesity prevention and treatment are urgently needed.

Key Obesity Statistics

Number of Canadians overweight or obese, adult and youth (StatsCan)

Canadian Health Measures Survey: Body composition and fitness (StatsCan)

Obesity in Canada - Snapshot (Public Health Agency of Canada 2011) 

Obesity in Canada - Snapshot (Public Health Agency of Canada 2009) 

Prevalence of class I, II and III obesity in Canada (CMAJ, 2006) 

Weight management experiences of overweight and obese Canadian adults: findings from a national survey (2012)