Northern smoking, drinking rates highest in Canada: 2014 health report

A string of reports recently released from Statistics Canada say the three territories are getting failing grades when it comes to health markers such as smoking, heavy drinking and obesity.

Overall, one in five Canadians are obese

In 2014, the Northwest Territories had the highest proportion of residents who were obese (33.7 per cent) in the country, compared to the overall Canadian obesity rate of 20.2 per cent.

A string of recent reports say the three territories are getting a failing grade when it comes to health issues such as smoking, binge drinking and obesity.

Statistics Canada recently released 2014 data looking at the prevalence of different health issues in provinces and territories in Canada.

N.W.T.: Heavy drinking

The Northwest Territories did the worst in a number of categories. The territory had the highest proportion of residents who were obese (33.7 per cent) in the country. The overall Canadian obesity rate was 20.2 per cent.

Statistics Canada measured obesity by the heights and weights reported by the people who were surveyed.

The Northwest Territories had the highest percentage of residents reporting heavy drinking, at 32.7 per cent, followed by Yukon at 27.8 per cent. (CBC)

Yukon and Nunavut reported rates of obesity that were about the same as the national average.

The N.W.T also had the highest proportion of people who reported heavy drinking. That was defined as having five or more drinks per occasion for men, four for women, at least once a month during the past year.

In N.W.T., 32.7 per cent of residents reported heavy drinking, compared to the Canadian average of 17.9 per cent.

N.W.T. also had the second-highest proportion of smokers in the country, at 33.3 per cent of people age 12 and over, compared to the Canadian average of 18.1 per cent, and the second-highest rate of people without a regular doctor at 57.7 per cent. 

Nunavut: Most smoking, fewest vegetables

Nunavut had the highest smoking rate in Canada at 62 per cent, nearly twice that of runner-up N.W.T. It also had the lowest proportion of residents who reported eating five servings of vegetables each day (23.9 per cent of residents). The Canadian average was 39.5 per cent.

In 2014, Nunavut's smoking rate was 62 per cent, the highest rate in Canada and almost double that of N.W.T., the next highest at 33.3 per cent. (CBC)

It reported the lowest proportion of residents who said they were at least moderately active, at 39.7 per cent.

Moderately active was defined as the equivalent of walking at least 30 minutes a day or taking an hour-long exercise class at least three times a week.

Nunavut also had the highest rate of residents that did not have a family doctor, at 82.5 per cent of residents. 

Yukon: Most active

Yukon had the second-highest percentage of residents who reported heavy drinking, at 27.8 per cent.

The territory also had the third-highest smoking rate, at 26.2 per cent, and the third-highest percentage of people without a regular doctor, at 26.1 per cent.

Statistics Canada also says that Yukoners are the most active people in the country, with 64.6 per cent of Yukon residents reporting they were at least moderately active during their leisure time, compared to the Canadian average of 54 per cent.

Northerners reported the lowest rates of high blood pressure, with 8.3 per cent of Nunavut residents and 12.3 per cent of N.W.T. residents reporting they had been diagnosed with high blood pressure. That's compared to the Canadian average of about 18 per cent.

Diabetes and asthma rates across the North were about the same as the national rate of six per cent and eight per cent, respectively.


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