Obese children will die younger than their parents: report

Obese children will die younger than their parents: report
Last Updated: Tuesday, March 27, 2007 | 4:58 PM ET CBC News
About one-quarter of Canadians aged two to 17 are overweight or obese, and they are expected to live
shorter lives than their parents, the Commons health committee warned Tuesday.
An all-party committee report titled Healthy Weight for Healthy Kids calls on the federal government to
stop the trend toward increasing obesity levels among Canadian children by the 2010 Olympic Games in
Vancouver, and to decrease levels by at least 25 per cent by 2020.
The excess weight puts children at risk of a range of preventable health problems, including Type 2
diabetes, susceptibility to heart attack and stroke, joint problems and mental health issues.
"It has been said that obesity outranks both smoking and drinking now in its effects on health and health
costs," said committee chair Rob Merrifield, a Conservative MP for the Alberta riding of Yellowhead.
"For the first time in recorded history, today's younger generation will live shorter lives than their parents.
Yet parents, and this is, I believe, the most alarming statistic that we found, do not recognize the problem."
According to a survey by the Canadian Medical Association, nine per cent of parents identified their
children as being overweight or obese.
Rates among aboriginal children are worse, with 55 per cent living on reserves being overweight or obese,
compared with 41 per cent for First Nations children living off reserves, said the report.
Children on reserves are also snacking on processed, high-sugar foods, but statistics suggest obesity levels
go down considerably if one meal a day is made of traditional First Nations food, Merrifield said.
The report calls on the federal government to immediately:
Start a comprehensive public awareness campaign.
Mandate standardized labels on the front of packages.
Remove trans fats from the Canadian diet and replace them with an alternative low in saturated
"We have to change the paradigm so that it's unfashionable to overeat and it's very fashionable to exercise
more," Merrifield said.
It will probably take a generation to change the culture, but it is possible, said Conservative MP Steven
Fletcher, who sits on the committee.
In response to the report, non-profit consumer group Centre for Science in the Public Interest renewed its
calls to limit commercially motivated pressures on children to eat, drink and be inactive.
The Commons committee's report called for a review of the food and beverage industry's self-regulation of
their advertising to children.