Obesity rates are still climbing in Canada, particularly in the Maritimes and territories, according to a new study.

Researchers at the University of British Columbia mapped self-reported obesity rates for adults across Canada since 1998.

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The colour-coded obesity maps could help health authorities monitor regional trends, says Carolyn Gotay. (Courtesy UBC)

The Maritimes and the three territories had the highest obesity rates from 2000 to 2011 — more than 30 per cent of the population in these regions is estimated to be obese, Prof. Carolyn Gotay of UBC's School of Population and Public Health and her co-authors said in today's issue of the Canadian Journal of Public Health.

British Columbia had the lowest overall rates. In B.C., obesity increased from less than 20 per cent to almost 25 per cent.

In Quebec, rates remained below 24 per cent.

Gotay said the colour-coded maps are meant to personalize the data in a way that transcends language differences.

Obesity rates could be levelling off, the researchers said. For the past four years, the percentage of Canadians estimated to be obese varied from 24.2 per cent to 25.3 per cent compared with steeper climbs previously.

"The impact of obesity on chronic disease incidence takes time to emerge, and even if rates level off, they are historic highs," the researchers concluded.

The study did not include data on aboriginals living on reserves or Canadians in remote areas.