Obesity rates in Niagara and adolescent cardiovascular risk factors in Niagara

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Obesity rates:

The Niagara region continues to fight rising obesity rates and the concerns that arise from increasing obesity rates for children and youth. The rates of obesity are generally higher than those in Ontario, but similar to Canada in the last 2 years.  Current estimates indicate that 49.3 % of residents in Niagara are either overweight or obese (44.9% in Ontario; 51.6% in Canada). Niagara rate of obesity is approximately 4% higher than the 2005 rate.

Table 7.2 Overweight and Obese rates in Niagara, Ontario and Canada 2005-2009

2005 2007 2008 2009
Niagara 45.0 43.3 48.8 49.3
Ontario 43.9 44.4 44.9 44.9
Canada 50.0 50.8 51.1 51.6

Source: Statistics Canada, Canadian Community Health Survey, 2005-2009

In 2005, 20.8% of youth, 12-17 years of age in Niagara were considered to be overweight or obese compared to 19.5% in Ontario. In 2007, 30.7% of youth in Niagara were overweight or obese compared to 19.8% in Ontario.   But this data needs to be interpreted carefully as there was a small sample to estimate the rate.

Source: Statistics Canada Canadian Community Health Survey, 2003, 2005.

Niagara adolescent cardiovascular risk factors:  Heart Niagara, a community-based organization has a focus on the prevention of heart disease in Niagara with all age groups. Heart Niagara with support from each of the school boards gathers data annually on 13-15 year old students in the Niagara Region.  The 2002-2008 findings were published utilizing Heart Niagara program data from over 20,000 students.  This was done in collaboration with the Hospital for Sick Children, Toronto.   The research team was:  Dr. Brian W. McCrindle, Heather Lee Kilty, PhD, Dawn Prentice, RN, PhD, and Stafford Dobbin, MB.  Kilty and Prentice (2009) summarized results for several years and identified trends in risk factors and lifestyle behaviours:

  • BMI percentile decreased from 69% to 65%; the proportion of overweight adolescents remained constant between 16% and 19%, but the proportion of obese adolescents increased significantly from 11% to 13%.
  • Non-fasting cholesterol levels increased significantly over time; significant increases were seen in  adolescents with borderline high cholesterol (6% to 10%) and those with high cholesterol (2% to 5%).
  • Minor, but statistically significant decreases occurred in systolic blood pressure (BP); those with hypertension decreased 11% to 8%.
  • The proportion of adolescents with a family history of premature CVD remained constant at 28%-32%.
  • Significant decreases were reported in physical activity.
  • There was an increase in those reporting eating 5 fruits and vegetables a day; a decrease in those eating breakfast; and a slight decrease in the number of soft drinks consumed per week.
  • The number of smokers remained the same (P=.25)
  • Many associations were found between risk factors (eg. higher cholesterol was associated with increased BMI, BP and type 1 diabetes).   Source: McCrindle et. al. 2010.
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