Southwestern Alberta obesity rate rises more than 10 per cent

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Southwest Alberta seems to have a big health problem that could prove very costly down the road. Data from the latest Vital Signs report shows obesity in the region has risen significantly over the last few years. Kyle Benning has more – Oct 15, 2018

The latest Vital Signs report shows obesity rates have jumped more than 10 per cent from 2007-2008 to 2015-2016.

The City of Lethbridge is trying to be part of a solution with its Halloween coupon books – allowing people to offer a healthy alternative to trick-or-treaters.

“So instead of giving candy to kids, you can give them a free swim or a free skate which gets them some exercise and is fun to do,” said Recreation Excellence general manager Brad Pack.

READ MORE: University of Lethbridge joint study suggests majority of Canadian children not active enough

Alberta Health Services said men between the ages of 45 to 64 are at the highest risk of being obese.

There are a couple of factors for the growth in the obesity rate, and there is no silver bullet for solving it — some of those factors being stress, sleep, diet and exercise.

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“It’s not really a prescription one-size-fits-all, but really looking at for us, what we need in our lives to stay healthy,” said AHS Weight Management Program clinical team lead Shelley Boras.

But keeping an active lifestyle goes hand-in-hand with health benefits.

Boras said people who are obese tend to see doctors more frequently, putting a financial strain on the health system.

“So we do see a higher use, especially in the higher-weight population because they’re waiting longer and they’re sicker when they come in,” she said.

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

By the year 2025, the World Obesity Federation estimates more than 10-million Canadian adults will be obese.

That would put the cost of treating associated illnesses like heart disease and diabetes at $33.7 billion a year.

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