Canadian Health Measures Survey: Adult obesity prevalence in Canada and the United States

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2007 to 2009

The prevalence of obesity among adults in Canada is lower than it is in the United States. From 2007 to 2009, 24.1% of adults in Canada were obese, based on measured data, below the prevalence of 34.4% in the United States.

Among Canadian men, the prevalence of obesity was 24.3% compared with 32.6% of their American counterparts. Among women, the gap was even wider. From 2007 to 2009, 23.9% of Canadian women were obese compared with 36.2% of women in the United States.

During the past two decades, the prevalence of obesity has increased significantly in Canada and the United States. For men, the prevalence of obesity increased by about 10 percentage points in Canada and 12 percentage points in the United States. Among women, the increase was about 8 percentage points in Canada and 10 percentage points in the United States.

Patterns of increase were fairly consistent across age groups in both nations. Among men, the increase was highest among those aged 60 to 74. Among women, the increase was highest among those aged 20 to 39.

Note: Canadian estimates are based on results of the Canadian Health Measures Survey. American estimates come from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. The complementary nature of these surveys has created a unique opportunity to compare rates of obesity among adults in Canada and the United States.

For male and female adults aged 20 and over, obesity is defined as a body mass index (BMI) of 30.0 or higher. BMI is calculated as weight in kilograms divided by height in metres squared, rounded to one decimal place.

Definitions, data sources and methods: survey number 5071.

The study "Adult obesity prevalence in Canada and the United States" was co-authored by Statistics Canada and the National Center for Health Statistics. It will be released today by the National Center for Health Statistics at (www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/databriefs/db56.htm).

A fact sheet is also available in Health Fact Sheets (82-625-X, free).

For more information about this study, or to enquire about the concepts, methods or data quality of this release, contact Margot Shields (613-951-4177; margot.shields@statcan.gc.ca), Health Analysis Division.

For more information on the Canadian Health Measures Survey, 2007 to 2009, contact Client Services (toll-free 1-888-253-1087; chms-ecms@statcan.gc.ca), Physical Health Measures Division.