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Abdominal obesity in Quebec has doubled in the last 30 years: study

According to INSPQ, studies have shown waist circumference is more closely linked to the risks of developing chronic diseases than body mass index (BMI).
According to INSPQ, studies have shown waist circumference is more closely linked to the risks of developing chronic diseases than body mass index (BMI). Getty Images

The prevalence of abdominal obesity in Quebec has doubled since 1990, jumping from 21 to 48 per cent for women and from 14 to 32 per cent for men, according to a new study from the National Institute of Public Health (INSPQ).

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The institute indicates that one in three men has a waist circumference equal to or greater than 102 centimetres, while one in two women has a waist circumference equal to or greater than 88 centimetres.

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The INSPQ recalls that several large-scale epidemiological studies have shown that waist circumference is more closely linked to the risks of developing chronic diseases, such as Type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular diseases, than body mass index (BMI).

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Historically, BMI has been used as an indicator for population weight monitoring, but the INSPQ says it now recognizes the measurement as an imperfect indicator since it does not provide information on the distribution of fat on the body.

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The institute says this is why measuring waist circumference is more insightful.

The study finds that the percentage of people with a waist size associated with a high risk of developing chronic diseases has more than doubled in all age categories: young adults (18-34 years), middle-aged adults (35-64) and older adults (65-74 years).

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Compared with the 1981 data, the relative increase in abdominal obesity is even more substantial among young adults, meaning more Quebecers could develop chronic diseases related to abdominal obesity earlier in their adult lives.

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The INSPQ states that its study is the first to document the evolution of waist circumference in Quebec adults.

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