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Lower Mainland obesity rates climb the farther away from Vancouver you live: study


BC is often ranked as the healthiest province in Canada, but new data suggests some areas are more fit than others

VANCOUVER (NEWS1130) – BC is often ranked as the healthiest province in Canada, but new data from local health authorities show some areas are more fit than others. The obesity rate in the Lower Mainland increases the farther away you live from the city centre.

That’s one of the conclusions of the My Health My Community survey conducted by Vancouver Coastal Health and Fraser Health. People were asked to report their height and weight so their BMI could be calculated. That’s the figure used to determine whether a person is considered obese. Corrections were added to make up for people who were not honest in their reporting.

Despite the reputation we have in the Lower Mainland for being outdoorsy, exercise lovers, one in four of us is obese. But the rate of obesity in Vancouver falls to 15 per cent and that figure is even lower in Whistler.

Chief Medical Health Officer for Vancouver Coastal Health Dr. Patricia Daly believes Vancouver’s infrastructure is helping keep the rate down. “About two-thirds of people in Vancouver commute to work or school by biking, walking or taking transit. If you take transit, a portion of your commute includes walking… people who use those active means of transportation are 33 per cent less likely to be obese.”

Those options aren’t as easily available to people in the suburbs. Dr. Daly thinks it comes down to a difference in lifestyle. “People in those communities tend to commute to work or school by car, run errands in their car, may not access to the type of communities that are going to increase physical activity levels. So we need to work with governments in those areas to figure out what can they do to address some of the concern around obesity.”