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New report suggests Canada's obesity epidemic is a 'myth'

Photo courtesy: Flickr/ Ian T. McFarland

Photo courtesy: Flickr/ Ian T. McFarland

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    Cheryl Santa Maria
    Digital Reporter

    Monday, April 28, 2014, 6:57 PM -

    A new report by the Fraser Institute suggests there is "no obesity epidemic" in Canada.

    “Despite claims from public health advocates, politicians and media members, it’s a myth to say there’s an obesity epidemic in Canada leading to widespread illness and death, and that only government intervention can save us from ourselves,” said Nadeem Esmail, Fraser Institute director of health policy studies, in a statement.

    The paper also suggests that government programs designed to combat obesity are ineffective.

    RELATED: Have scientists discovered the fountain of youth?

    The study -- which identifies a difference between obesity and being overweight -- looked at obesity rates in Canada, the connection between weight and health, and government response to obesity.

    It analyzed data from Canada, the United States and the United Kingdom.

    While the study's authors say that weight levels appear to be evening out Canadians may, as a whole, be getting heavier.

    Between 2003 and 2012 the country's obesity rate climbed from 15.3 to 18.4 percent, stabilizing in 2009.

    "In fact, the rate of obesity among adult males may be dropping, though it continues to increase among adult females," The Fraser Institute writes.

    "For young people aged 12 to 17, rates of overweightness and obesity have been stable since 2005."

    RELATED: Childhood obesity on the rise in the U.S.

    Esmail says that claims of an obesity epidemic aren't supported by available data and advises policy makers to tread carefully when introducing new obesity-related proposals.

    Still, some special interest groups, like the Childhood Obesity Foundation, suggest that childhood obesity remains a persistent problem in Canada.

    "If current trends continue, by 2040, up to 70% of adults aged 40 years will be either overweight or obese," the foundation says. 

    The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say obesity at an early age can lead to significant health concerns in later life, including high blood pressure and Type 2 diabetes.

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