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In a massive survey of obesity in 63 countries, Canada won the dubious honour of being the fattest.

by Cynthia Ross Cravit, 50Plus.com
Canada the fat?

The obesity epidemic has gone global, and it's hitting hard in Canada.

36 per cent of Canadian men and women who saw their family doctors are obese, according to a massive French survey. And a further 40 per cent of men are overweight. This compares to just seven per cent in eastern Asia, the study said.

Canadian men also have the largest waistlines, a major risk factor for developing heart disease, diabetes and some forms of cancer. When it came to abdominal fat, Canadian women are above average, but not the biggest.

However, it should be noted that several countries with known obesity problems, in particular the United States, were not included in this survey which spanned 63 countries and five continents.

"This is the largest study to assess the frequency of adiposity (body fat) in the clinic, providing a snapshot of patients worldwide," said study lead author Beverley Balkau, director of research at France's national health research institute INSERM.

The study, published in the journal Circulation, gathered data from 168,159 people (including 3,062 Canadians) from 18 to 80 years old. The average age was 48. All of them were evaluated by their family doctors (who determined their body mass index and waist size) on two half-days in 2005.

Obesity: a world-wide problem
When it comes to weight problems, Canada certainly doesn't stand alone. Worldwide, 40 per cent of men and 30 per cent of women are now overweight, and 24 per cent of men and 27 per cent of women are obese, the study found.

And while the U.S. was not included in this survey, health officials say an estimated two-thirds of Americans are overweight and a third of these are obese.

"Obesity is nearly a worldwide problem that threatens to wipe out gains made in treating heart disease and diabetes," Balkau reported.

"The study results show that excess body weight is pandemic (apart from southern and eastern Asia), with one-half to two-thirds of the population overweight or obese by current definitions," she wrote.

Her research team also concluded that diabetes and heart disease rates are closely related to size of waistline, not merely to weight. Several people may have the same body mass index, or BMI, but different waist sizes, and in every country people with the largest waistlines are in worse health, the study found.

"For men, each increase of approximately 5.5 inches (14 cm) means an increased frequency of about 35 per cent for heart disease and for women an increase of approximately six inches (15 cm) equates to a 40 per cent increase for heart disease," the study authors reported.

Other findings:
Overall frequency of heart disease was 16 per cent in men and 13 per cent in women. Eastern Europe had the highest rates of heart disease (27 per cent in men, 24 per cent in women). Canada had lower rates (16 per cent in men, 8 per cent in women).

World-wide, 13 percent of men and 11 per cent of women had diabetes.

Governments need to take more preventive measures, including encouraging people to exercise and providing more access to physical activity, in order to stop rising rates of overweight and obesity, Balkau said.

"Physical activity and good nutrition are key. A change is needed or the public health situation for heart disease and diabetes will become worse," she added.

About BMI
Body mass index, or BMI, which calculates height to weight is considered an accurate way of assessing overweight in most adults except for highly muscled athletes.

A body mass index (BMI) of 18-24 is typically considered healthy. People with BMIs of 25 to 30 are overweight and anyone with a BMI of 30 or more is obese.

Source: American Heart Association

 

 

 

 

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