Obesity is on track to overtake smoking as the most common risk for heart disease in Canada by 2015, according to a study published Tuesday.
“Obesity is a major problem in Canada, affecting nearly one in five adults,” said lead author and Ottawa Hospital Research Institute senior scientist Dr. Doug Manuel.
“Our study suggests that the escalating rates of obesity and diabetes are counteracting gains in population health being made in other areas, such as smoking and high blood pressure.”
The report is from CMAJ Open, an online open-access journal from the same family as the Canadian Medical Association Journal (CMAJ).
But there’s some good news: The overall risk of heart disease is set to decrease slightly over the next seven years, said Manuel, “as a result of progress in controlling high blood pressure and cholesterol levels, and helping people to stop smoking.”
While heart disease is a leading cause of death in Canada, killing more than 70,000 people a year, there has been no clear picture of its effect into the future.
The study’s authors created a model simulating the future lives of 22.5 million Canadians aged 20 years and older.
The model projects the prevalence of risk factors associated with heart disease: Obesity, smoking, diabetes, high cholesterol and uncontrolled high blood pressure.
The Public Health Agency of Canada estimates more than five million Canadian adults are obese, and obesity-related illnesses cost our health care system $4 billion annually.