34% of Canadian adults will be obese by 2025, and it will cost billions: report

A report from the World Obesity Federation predicts that more than 10 million Canadians will be affected by the problem by 2025. Getty Images

The number of people who are obese and overweight in the world is increasing, and Canada’s no exception.

A report released Tuesday by the World Obesity Federation (WOF) takes an in-depth look at what obesity rates will be like globally by the year 2025. And it says the findings are an indication that changes need to be made urgently.

READ MORE: Canadian obesity rates continue to climb

According to the report, the global cost of treating obesity-related illnesses will be US$1.2 trillion each year beginning in 2025. By the same year, there will be an estimated 2.7 billion overweight and obese people in the world — that’s a third of Earth’s population.

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In Canada, more than 10 million adults (34 per cent of those over 18 years) will live with obesity in eight years. Treating health problems caused by the excessive weight, such as heart disease, diabetes, liver disease and certain cancers, will cost the country US$27.5 billion (roughly C$33.7 billion) each year. And between 2017 and 2025, the total cost of treating those illnesses will be US$207 billion.

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The country with the most concerning obesity prognosis is the United States, which is expected to spend US$555 billion treating obesity-related problems in 2025 alone. The number of people living with obesity in America will be nearly 108 million.

In a statement emailed to Global News, the president of WOF, Ian Caterson, explained obesity has “risen dramatically” over the past decade.

“It is clear that governments need to act now to reduce this burden on their national economies.”

READ MORE: Don’t use BMI to measure your health, doctors say

The report suggests that the increasing cost of treating these illnesses can be reduced if countries invest in preventing and curbing obesity.

If Canada invests $4.2 billion in treating obesity, the percentage of Canadians dealing with the problem could be reduced to 29 per cent from 34 per cent. The report adds that countries should spend more on providing treatment services to people already living with obesity, along with early intervention and prevention.

READ MORE: Here’s how the world became obese in one eye-popping map

Costs for treatment should be covered by the health-care system and/or insurance companies, the WOF said. There should also be clear ways of seeking help, with access to medical professionals, pharmaceuticals and medical devices.

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The federation adds that anyone seeking help with weight management should have educational materials and guidelines available to them, free consultations and workplace support.

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In an August report, Statistics Canada found similar rising numbers on obesity, with 26.7 per cent of Canadians who were obese in 2015, up from 23.1 per cent in 2004. It noted that Saskatchewan has the highest obesity rate, with 45.9 per cent of adults falling into that category. British Columbia has the lowest rate of adult obesity, at 21.4 per cent.

Canada’s failing grade on combating obesity

According to the Canadian Obesity Network, seven million Canadians are currently living with the weight condition, but the country isn’t properly helping those affected.

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An April report by the organization gave every province a failing grade on the issue.

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“The problem with obesity is that although we have recognized it as a chronic disease, when you go to your doctor, often what you get told is to lose weight, but then you’re pretty much on your own with that,” Dr. Arya Sharma, scientific director of the Canadian Obesity Network, told Global News at the time.

The report noted several shortcomings.

READ MORE: Here’s why Canada gets a failing grade in treating the obesity epidemic

Anti-obesity medications aren’t covered by any provincial or territorial drug benefit plan. The report added that there are “very few” medically supervised weight-management programs, and they often cost thousands of dollars.

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Perhaps the most troubling statistic out of the report is that only 40 physicians in Canada have formal training and certification to address obesity and weight management. There are more than 80,000 physicians in the country.

— With previous Global News files

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