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The vast majority of Canadians aged 12 and older are satisfied or very satisfied with life—91% in 2008. And most consider themselves to be in very good or excellent health. In 2008, 59% of Canadians said their health was either very good or excellent. The figure for those aged 20 to 34 was 67%, whereas it was 39% for seniors aged 65 and older.
Of those dissatisfied with life in 2008, 54% reported fair or poor health. Many Canadians today live with chronic health problems, such as high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, cancer, asthma, diabetes and obesity. As the population ages, other chronic diseases like arthritis are affecting more people.
Life expectancy at birth was 80.8 years in 2006, compared with 78.4 years in 1996. A girl born in 2006 can expect to live 83.0 years; a boy can expect to live 78.4 years. The difference in average lifespan between the sexes has narrowed recently from 5.7 years in 1995 to 4.6 years in 2006.
Death rates remained steady at 7.1 deaths per 1,000 people from 2001 to 2005. In the last quarter-century, the leading causes of death have been diseases of the circulatory system and cancer. Both are more prevalent in an aging population. In 2005, these two causes combined were responsible for 6 of every 10 deaths.
Healthy behaviours lead to better health
In 2008, almost 51% of Canadians aged 12 and older were at least moderately active during their leisure time, compared with nearly 52% in 2003.
Good eating habits today translate to eating more fruits and vegetables. Among individuals aged 12 and older in 2008, 44% consumed fruits and vegetables five or more times per day, up from 41% in 2003 and 38% in 2001.
Healthy diet and exercise reduce risks
A well-balanced diet and physical activity can reduce the risk of Type 2 diabetes. In 2008, 5.9% of Canadians aged 12 or older reported diabetes (all types), up from 4.6% in 2003. Diabetes rates increase as people get older, rising to 16.0% in seniors aged 65 and older.
Heavy drinking (five or more drinks, at least 12 times a year) was reported by 24% of men and almost 10% of women in 2008. That compares with 29% of men and 12% of women in 2003. In 2008, men aged 18 to 19 and 20 to 34 were most likely to engage in heavy drinking, at 44% and 39% respectively.
Smoking is a risk factor for lung cancer, heart disease, stroke and other conditions. In 2008, 21% of Canadians aged 12 and older smoked daily or occasionally. One in three men and one in four women aged 20 to 34 smoked in 2008.
Most public spending on health services pays for hospitals, drugs and physicians. The federal, provincial, territorial and local governments spent $114.2 billion on health services in 2008, just more than double the $56.8 billion spent on such services in 1998. Total government expenditures increased almost 56% over that period.
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