The latest obesity study published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal shows more people in Canada, and particularly Newfoundland and Labrador, are becoming obese.

Memorial University associate professor Laurie Twells, one of the researchers on the project, said research showed that an average of 20 per cent of Canadians will be considered obese by 2019.

However, Twells said roughly 71 per cent of people in Newfoundland and Labrador will be considered obese or overweight in the same time frame.

"Obesity is not an Atlantic region problem, it's not a Canadian problem. It's a global epidemic," she said.

"Most countries in the world, including countries that actually typically suffer from malnutrition, are now starting to deal with problems of obesity."

According to Twells, the impact of obesity on the health care system is on par with cigarette smoking.

Twells said there needs to be action taken to keep the number from climbing even higher.

"One of the things we're interested in is what are other policy initiatives going out across the country," she said.

"In terms of the actual problem, it's a three-pronged approach, so whether we put more of our resources into prevention, whether we focus on the management piece in terms of adults and just even helping them maintain body weight, or whether we start treating patients."

Impediments to change

St. John's comedian Dave Sullivan has started a blog called The Narcisisst's Revenge to document his experiences while trying to lose weight and get healthier.

He said there are some serious challenges to being active at this time of year in the city.

"I started walking the streets I guess in December ... and that's free — everybody can do that. However, it is a very harrowing experience to try and navigate the sidewalks in this city in the winter, and it is not for everyone and often times when I am out there I do not feel safe," Sullivan said.

"There are infrastructure problems within this city that I do not understand, and challenges that they have that I do not understand, but that being said, it is a terrible experience to try and get exercise when it's dangerous, quite frankly."

Sullivan said that studies, like the one Twells was a part of, are vital to making people realize how dangerous obesity can be.

"This problem needs to be spoken about and people need to be educated on it, and it's great to do these studies, but what's more important to me is that once these studies have been completed it's vital that people act on them," he said.

"You can do all the studies in the world, you can isolate all the problems in the world, but if you don't act on them then they just sort of sit, and that is not what should happen."