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    Location: Government of Ontario Home > Canada NewsWire – Ontario Newsroom

    Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care

    Ontario obesity reaches epidemic proportions

    Chief Medical Officer Of Health Recommends Action

    TORONTO, Nov. 24 /CNW/ – Healthy, active living combined with sensible
    eating habits improves quality of life for everyone and reduces the risk of
    preventable diseases, Dr. Sheela Basrur, the province’s Chief Medical Officer
    of Health, said today as she released a report entitled Healthy Weights,
    Healthy Lives.
    «I am alarmed to report that almost one out of every two adults in
    Ontario is overweight or obese,» Dr. Basrur said. «Fortunately, this epidemic
    can be reversed. Through this report, I want people to understand how they can
    find the right balance in their lives, and how we can create the best
    environments – at work, school and in our communities – to promote physical
    activity and healthy eating.»

    In her report, Dr. Basrur states that:

    – Obesity among children ages seven to 13 tripled between 1981 and 1996
    – Unhealthy weights are responsible for a dramatic rise in type 2
    diabetes and contributes to heart disease, strokes, hypertension and
    some cancers
    – Obesity costs Canada’s economy $2.7 billion and the health care system
    $1.6 billion in 2000/01.

    Dr. Basrur’s report outlines many factors – including individual, social,
    cultural, economic and environmental conditions – that have caused the obesity
    epidemic. The report makes recommendations to promote healthy weights, calling
    on all levels of government, the health sector, food industry, workplaces,
    schools, families and individuals to become part of a comprehensive, province-
    wide effort to eat better and exercise more.
    «We know that healthy weights mean healthy lives,» Dr. Basrur said.
    «People who are a healthy weight feel better, are less likely to develop
    diseases, and enjoy a higher quality of life. By acting now, we can reduce the
    risks associated with unhealthy weights, and reap the benefits for decades to

    Version française disponible



    In her annual report, Healthy Weights, Healthy Lives, Dr. Sheela Basrur,
    Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health, is recommending a comprehensive
    strategy to help Ontarians achieve and maintain healthy weights and enjoy
    healthy lives. These recommendations are aimed at many different sectors of

    Recommendations for the Ontario government include:
    – Developing an innovative and comprehensive plan to address healthy
    weights, led by the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care and also
    involving the Ministries of Tourism and Recreation, Agriculture and
    Food, Children and Youth Services, Education, Transportation,
    Community and Social Services, Environment, Municipal Affairs and
    Housing, Consumer and Business Services, and other non-governmental
    – Developing a targeted, well-resourced mass media campaign to increase
    awareness of the benefits of healthy weights
    – Introducing policies and programs that promote healthy eating,
    including controlling food advertising targeted at children (similar
    to what’s in place in Quebec where advertising of some products to
    children under 13 is prohibited)
    – Developing policies that promote physical activity, including
    encouraging safe transportation options such as more bicycle lanes and
    – Joining with the private sector to highlight successful initiatives to
    promote healthy eating and regular physical activity
    – Giving Ontarians better access to information and counselling by
    providing a telephone information/advice service (Dial-a-Dietitian)
    based on a British Columbia model that has been in operation for
    30 years.

    Recommendations for Health Canada include:
    – Investing resources in a long-term, multi-level strategy to promote
    healthy weights, healthy eating and physical activity based on the
    World Health Organization strategy and work with provincial and
    territorial partners to implement a healthy living strategy across the
    – Funding public health research that will encourage practitioners and
    academics to investigate effective ways to improve eating habits,
    physical activity and healthy weights
    – Phasing out trans fat from processed foods and requiring large chain
    restaurants to disclose basic nutrition facts about the foods they
    – Funding a national fruit and vegetable promotional campaign
    – Funding a national physical activity promotion agency.

    Recommendations for local and regional governments include:
    – Providing more opportunities for people to be physically active by
    enhancing park land and recreational areas
    – Ensuring young children in day care settings have healthy food
    choices, daily physical activity, and are taught about the benefits of
    healthy eating and physical activity
    – Integrating healthy eating and physical activity opportunities in new
    and existing community programs such as prenatal classes, Early Years
    Centres and after school programs.

    Recommendations for the food industry include:
    – Phasing out the use of trans fats in processed foods
    – Decreasing serving sizes, especially of snack foods
    – Developing healthier prepared foods as options for busy families
    – Increasing user-friendly food labelling on large chain restaurant
    menus and take-out/deli foods.

    Recommendations for workplaces include:
    – Developing a corporate culture that supports healthy eating, physical
    activity and employee wellness
    – Implementing ways to be more physically active at work, such as having
    exercise breaks
    – Promoting healthy eating at work through vending machines and
    cafeterias that offer healthy choices.

    Recommendations for schools and school boards include:
    – Developing guidelines for food available in school cafeterias and
    vending machines
    – Providing daily physical education that is taught by teachers trained
    in physical education
    – Encouraging parents to support healthy eating and physical activity at
    – Promoting physical activity when building or retrofitting schools by
    having bicycle racks, active and safe routes to school, and adequate
    indoor facilities for physical activity.

    For further information: Members of the media: Dan Strasbourg, Ministry
    of Health and Long-Term Care, (416) 314-6197; Members of the general public:
    (416) 327-4327, or (800) 268-1154

    Other news releases disseminated by this ministry


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