October 5, 2005

Obesity rates in Canadian children double – study

By Matthew Chung

TORONTO (Reuters) - Children in the Canadian province of
Ontario may be the first generation to die younger than their
parents, doctors said on Tuesday.

A report released by the Ontario Medical Association found
obesity rates in children across Canada nearly doubled between
1981 and 1996. The percentage of overweight boys between 2 and
16 increased to 29 percent from 15 percent, while overweight
girls in the same age group rose to 24 percent from 15 percent.

Dr. Greg Flynn, president of the medical association, said
70 percent of obese children will go on to be obese adults, and
therefore be at greater risk of life-threatening illnesses such
as heart disease, high blood pressure and Type 2 diabetes as
well as breathing problems and arthritis.

Lack of physical activity, bad food choices and overeating
are the main culprits, Flynn said.

"When it comes to kids, it's too much screen time, too much
time in front of the television, too much time in front of
video games and the computer, and they need to be out playing
and having more regular physical activity," he said.

The doctors asked the government of Ontario, Canada's most
populous province, to take immediate action on what they called
a children's "obesity epidemic." They urged mandating one hour
per day of structured aerobic physical activity for elementary
and secondary school students as well as restrictions on access
to junk foods in schools.

Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty said on Sunday that his
government plans to make 20 minutes of physical activity a day
mandatory for elementary students.