CHECKUP EPISODE

What's the best way to tackle Canada's weight problem?

We were happy to cheer our Olympic athletes from our armchairs, but in our own lives, we are piling on the pounds. With a quarter of Canadian adults classed as obese, how should the country deal with its weight problem?
Is it time for Canada to address its issues around weight and obesity? (Reuters)
Listen to the full episode1:51:33

A national weigh-in.

Suhana Meharchand (CBC)
Mary Poppins said it best with the song, "A Spoonful of Sugar." Nothing like it to sweeten the medicine, and to sweeten everything else we consume. It seems we're only too happy to run with that message. 

We've never had so much choice when it comes to our lifestyle. At the same time, we've never had so much science explaining how we can lead healthier, more active lives. And yet as a nation, we are carrying far too much weight. 

Global figures from the OECD (Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development) say Canadians are the 7th heaviest in a global count that looked at 35 countries.

And according to the most recent statistics, one quarter of Canadians are obese. Our problem with the pounds has even got the Senate's attention. 

In 2016, a report looking into the latest statistics and consequences put it bluntly, "There is an obesity crisis in this country. Canadians are paying for it with their wallets and with their lives."

Canada is not alone, of course. Obesity is a global issue. To put it into context, recent research from Imperial College London, shows a disturbing trend. In 1975 there were five million obese girls. By 2016 that number had risen to 50 million. For boys the 1975 obesity rate was six million. At the last count, that figure had become 74 million. 

So it's clear we have a problem. The question is how do we tackle it? 

Weight Watchers has come up with one approach. Not everyone thinks it is an advisable one. This summer, teens between 13 and 17, will be entitled to a free Weight Watchers membership. Is this a proactive step for a demographic that is becoming dangerously overweight? Or is the company engaging in the kind of body shaming that some say leads to years of pointless dieting and negative self esteem? 

Do you see our widening girth as a problem that needs to be solved? And if so, what can be done? Is it up to the government to implement strategies that will influence our choices? Or does the issue of our own body weight and health fall directly to us as individuals? After all, we have more information than ever before on what we should and should not be eating and how active we should be. 

Our question today: How should we tackle Canada's weight problem?

Guests

Art Eggleton - Chair of the Standing Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology. That is the committee that published a study called, 'Obesity in Canada - A Whole-of-Society Approach for a Healthier Canada'

Dr. Tom Warshawski - Pediatrician and Chair of the Childhood Obesity Foundation

Dr. Jay Wortman - He is a physician and medical researcher who has studied the problem of obesity and diabetes. He is also from the Métis community of Fort Vermilion, Alberta

Sara Kirk, professor of health promotion in the School of Health and Human Performance, and the Scientific Director of the Healthy Populations Institute at Dalhousie University.

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