Obesity rates in Canada continue to rise, and the rate on P.E.I. continues to be above the national average.

Obesity rates
Canada 18.3%
N.L. 27.7%
N.B. 25.1%
P.E.I. 23.5%
Quebec 16.8%
B.C. 14.5%

A group of researchers used data from Statistics Canada to calculate how the body mass index of Canadians has changed over the last three decades. The study found obesity rates in the country rose from about six per cent in 1985, to 18.3 per cent in 2011.

Rates varied significantly from province to province, with the lowest rates in B.C. and Quebec, and the highest in New Brunswick and Newfoundland and Labrador. The rate on P.E.I. remains above the national average at 23.5 per cent, making about one in four Islanders obese.

"I don't think we really know what's going on interprovincially and that's something I'm quite interested in pursuing, is why these differences exist," said Laura Twell of Memorial University, one of the lead researchers on the study.

2001 2011
P.E.I. rates
Normal 40.5% 41.8%
Overweight 38.9% 34.3%
Obese 19.6% 23.5%

"Is it genetics, is it cultural? Can we learn from other provinces that may appear to be maybe doing better?"

There is some good news in the study for P.E.I. It was the only province to record an increase in people of a normal, healthy weight. It had the largest drop in people categorized as overweight. While many in that category became obese, some also moved to a healthy weight.

Twell hopes provincial governments use this research to help lower the obesity rates.