Health authority focuses on curbing obesity among youth

Vancouver Island Health Authority targeting youth in prevention programs to promote healthy lifestyle choices.

Canada faces an epidemic of bulging waistlines – about one in four adults is obese.

To combat this trend in the central Island, the Vancouver Island Health Authority is targeting programs at children and youth.

“The most important thing we can do is prevent it in children,” said Eileen Bennewith, a registered dietician and VIHA public health nutritionist.

The Obesity in Canada report, released last month by the Public Health Agency of Canada and Canadian Institute for Health Information, indicates obesity rates almost doubled among men and women between 1981 and 2009.

While actual weight and height measurement data puts obesity at 25 per cent the national self-reported number is 17.1 per cent. The central Island area is nearly on par at 16.9 per cent.

Obesity cost the Canadian economy an estimated $4.6 billion in 2008, based on eight chronic conditions commonly linked to it, including Type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, cancer and hypertension.

“Canada is facing an obesity epidemic,” said Charlene Wiles, spokeswoman for the Public Health Agency of Canada, in a press release. “Reducing obesity levels and promoting healthy weights is critical to the prevention of ill health.”

Obesity rates in children and youth ages six to 17 is 8.6 per cent and rates among children have almost tripled in the last 25 years. But Bennewith said the prevalence of obesity among youth is below 10 per cent.

“It makes me hopeful our message is getting through,” she said.

Bennewith said obesity stems from many causes, not just poor nutrition. The June report suggests causes are complex and include individual choices, as well as environmental and social factors.

“The messages we use around obesity are extremely important,” said Bennewith. “More of our focus should be prevention.”

Bennewith said there is also too much focus on obesity itself, instead of its causes.

Children who are overweight or obese are the “canaries in the coalmine” for the entire nation’s poor diet, she said, adding poor eating habits in youth can affect their growth and development, affect learning and lead to further health problems down the road.

The health authority has a number of programs aimed at prevention, but Bennewith said it starts with breastfeeding. A child who is breastfed begins to monitor and gauge their own appetite. They use those skills when they begin to eat solid foods and as they grow.

The health authority is also part of an obesity task force created in February.

The effort was formed to define a need for developing a healthy weights initiative focused on children, identify resources, partners and program contributors and identify funding issues. It involves nine members from various organizations and professions, including VIHA staff, physicians and psychologists.

The task force is in its early stages, but members plan to engage schools, family physicians and Nanaimo’s parks, recreation and culture department.

The federal government has also launched Our Health Our Future: A National Dialogue on Health Weights, which aims to curb childhood obesity and promote healthy living.

Other programs include the children’s Fitness Tax Credit, Eating Well with Canada’s Food Guide and more than $6 million to fund ParticipAction.

 

 

Quickfacts:

 

Obese Canadians are four times more likely to have diabetes and about three times more likely to have high blood pressure.

 

Obesity rates in children have almost tripled in the last 25 years.

 

British Columbia has the lowest combined overweight and obesity rates at 45 per cent.

 

51,000 children in British Columbia ages two to 17 were classified as obese and 138,500, 20 per cent, as overweight.

Just Posted

The Nanaimo Business Awards are accepting nominations now. (Greater Nanaimo Chamber of Commerce image)
Nanaimo Business Awards accepting nominations of worthy winners

This year’s awards aren’t until the fall, but the nomination period ends June 28

Retailers say they’re ready for the ban on single-use plastic checkout bags in Nanaimo when it takes effect July 1. (Chris Bush/News Bulletin)
Retailers report they’re ready for Nanaimo’s single-use checkout bag ban

Business operators say there’s been plenty of time to plan and prepare for bylaw that kicks in July 1

Nanaimo Fire Rescue crews on scene at a boat fire near the boat ramp at Long Lake on Sunday, June 20. (Greg Sakaki/News Bulletin)
Boat burns up on Nanaimo’s Long Lake, man and child unhurt

Jet skiers attempt to put out fire by circling around to spray water on burning boat

Gabriola singer-songwriter Sarah Osborne, Cowichan Valley duo Heartwood, Vancouver singer Kelly Haigh and Nanaimo bluesman David Gogo (clockwise from top-left) are among the performers in this year’s Cultivate Festival. (Photos submitted)
Gabriola Arts Council presents COVID-conscious Cultivate Festival

Theatre, music and art festival returns to Gabriola Island after 2020 hiatus

The border crossing into the United States is seen during the COVID-19 pandemic in Lacolle, Que. on February 12, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
VIDEO: Border quarantine to soon lift for fully vaccinated Canadians

Eligible travellers must still take multiple COVID-19 tests

Chilliwack secondary school’s principal is apologizing after a quote equating graduation with the end of slavery in the U.S. was included in the 2020-2021 yearbook. (Screenshot from submitted SnapChat)
B.C. student’s yearbook quote equates grad to end of slavery; principal cites editing error

Black former student ‘disgusted’ as CSS principal apologizes for what is called an editing error

Skeena MLA Ellis Ross. (Photo by Peter Versteege)
BC Liberal leadership candidate condemns ‘senseless violence’ of Okanagan church fires

Skeena MLA Ellis Ross says reconciliation isn’t about revenge for past tragedies

COVID-19 daily cases reported to B.C. public health, seven-day moving average to June 17, 2021. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)
B.C.’s COVID-19 infections drop to 90 on Sunday, 45 Monday

Pandemic spread dwindles as 77% of adults receive vaccine

John A. Read, who was inspired to leave his former career to become a professional astronomer by the purchase of a $13 telescope, will give beginning astronomers key pointers on how to set up and get the best performance from their instruments at Nanaimo Astronomy Society’s meeting June 24. (Photo courtesy Jennifer Read)
Astrophysicist will talk about getting the most out of a telescope at Nanaimo astronomy meeting

John Read’s purchase of a $13 telescope led to a degree in astrophysics and a career in astronomy

Emergency vehicles are parked outside of the Wintergreen Apartments on Fourth Avenue. (SUSAN QUINN / Alberni Valley News)
Port Alberni RCMP investigate stabbing on Fourth Avenue

Two men were found with ‘significant’ injuries near Wintergreen Apartments

A coroner’s inquest will be taking place at the Capitol Theatre in Port Alberni for the next week. (ELENA RARDON / ALBERNI VALLEY NEWS)
Teen B.C. mom who died following police custody recalled as ‘friend to many’

Police sent Jocelyn George to hospital after intoxication had gone ‘beyond the realm’ of normal detox

FILE - In this Nov. 29, 2020, file photo, Las Vegas Raiders defensive end Carl Nassib leaves the field after an NFL football game against the Atlanta Falcons in Atlanta. Nassib on Monday, June 21, 2021, became the first active NFL player to come out as gay. Nassib announced the news on Instagram, saying he was not doing it for the attention but because “I just think that representation and visibility are so important.” (AP Photo/John Bazemore, File)
Nassib becomes first active NFL player to come out as gay

More than a dozen NFL players have come out as gay after their careers were over

Penticton Indian Band Chief Greg Gabriel speaks to the Sacred Hearts Catholic Church burning down early Monday morning, June 21, 2021. (Monique Tamminga Western News)
Penticton band chief condemns suspicious burning of 2 Catholic churches

Both Catholic church fires are deemed suspicious, says RCMP

Most Read