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Commons committee shocked by childhood obesity PDF Print E-mail
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A House of Commons committee ?shocked? by the increase in youth obesity says the Canadian government should ban trans fat, introduce new standard nutrition labels for front-of-food packaging and launch a major public-awareness campaign to promote healthy food choices and physical activity.

smfatkids.JPGIn a comprehensive committee report titled Healthy Weights for Healthy Kids, which examines the ?epidemic? of childhood obesity in Canada, the recommendations are among 13 tabled today. The recommendations include a legislated ban on trans fat ? the industrially produced unsaturated fat found most often in baked or fried foods as trans fats have been shown both to elevate ?bad? cholesterol and lower ?good? cholesterol. And the committee also recommends a mandatory, standardized nutrition label for the front of food packages which would be phased in starting with foods advertised primarily to children.

According to the report, 26 per cent of young Canadians aged two to 17 ? more than one in four ? are overweight or obese, compared with 12 per cent three decades ago and that increase that ?shocked? the committee. Even more distressing, the report adds, is that 55 per cent of aboriginal children on reserve and 41 per cent off reserve are either overweight or obese.

The health consequences of excess weight are well known. It’s a risk factor for type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, osteoarthritis, some cancers and gallbladder disease.

smfatmc.JPGObesity costs Canada an estimated $1.6-billion annually in direct health care costs ? 2.4 per cent of total health care spending. There’s another $2.7-billion in indirect costs including lost productivity, disability insurance, reduced quality of life and mental-health problems because of stigmatization and poor self-esteem.

Health Canada’s Family Guide to Physical Activity for children lays out two goals:

* Increase the time currently spent on physical activity by a total of at least 30 minutes per day. (The guide suggests that increasing physical activity by 30 minutes a day is a lot easier than it sounds. It can be done in bouts as short as five or 10 minutes each.)
* Reduce “non-active” time spent on TV, video, computer games and surfing the internet, starting with at least 30 minutes less per day. Source AddThis Social Bookmark Button

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