Montreal

Number of obesity cases in Quebec has doubled in last 30 years, study finds

More than 40 per cent of Quebecers are considered to be obese: 50 per cent of women, and one in three men.

More than 40 per cent of Quebecers are considered to be obese: 50 per cent of women, and one in three men

Jean-Pierre Després is a Université Laval professor and one of the authors of the study.  (CBC)

The number of obese Quebecers has doubled over the last three decades, according to a new study from Quebec's national public health institute.

More than 40 per cent of adult Quebecers are considered to be obese: 50 per cent of women, and one in three men, the study found.

"The waistline ... was monitored in that study, showing that not only are Quebecers getting bigger, but their body shape has changed," said Jean-Pierre Després, a Université Laval professor and one of the authors of the study. 

He says the waistline, rather than body weight, is what people should focus on when it comes to fighting obesity. 

"[Quebecers] are becoming more sedentary," Després said. "They are losing muscle mass; they are gaining abdominal fat."

That combination, Després says, creates a major risk for heart disease, diabetes, some forms of cancer, sleep apnea and even impaired cognitive function. 

He says people need to change their eating habits and move around more to prevent obesity.

But Després stressed the importance of monitoring waistlines over time. 

"We need to do a lot more than saying simply we should eat better. We need to equip Quebecers and Canadians with tools so that they know what to do," he said.

The relative increase in obese people is even more substantial among young adults. That suggests higher numbers of Quebecers will develop chronic illness linked to obesity earlier in their life.

A person is considered obese if they have a waist measurement of more than 102 centimeters for men, and 88 centimeters for women.