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Did You Know?


  • The prevalence of obesity has nearly tripled over the last 25 years, with up to 26% of young people (2 to 17 years of age) overweight or obese, and 41% of their Aboriginal peers. (H1, H2)
  • Health consequences of childhood obesity include insulin resistance, type 2 diabetes, dyslipidemia, hypertension, obstructive sleep apnea, nonalcoholic steatohepatitis, poor self-esteem and a lower health-related quality of life. (H3, H4)
  • Only 10% of children are meeting the recommended 60 minutes of moderate- to vigorous-intensity physical activity each day. (H5)
  • Suicide is the second leading cause of death among Canadian youth between the ages of 10 and 24. (H6)
  • Twenty-five percent of children do not eat breakfast and the statistics worsen as the children get older. (H7)
  • An estimated 1.2 million Canadian youth are affected by mental illness. 70% of young adults say that their symptoms began in childhood. By the time they reach age 25, approximately 20 per cent of Canadian children and youth will have developed a mental illness. (H8)
  • The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that almost 25% of the global disease burden (years lost to premature death, disability, and illness) is attributable to environmental factors. (S1)
  • New research linking environmental factors to human health is published in medical and scientific journals almost every week. (S2)
  • Air pollution remains a serious health problem in many parts of Canada and is the primary contributor to over 11,000 deaths in Canada each year. (S3)
  • From 1978 to 2000 the percentage of children diagnosed with asthma more than quadrupled, from 3 to over 13 percent.(S4)
  • Health Canada estimates that the fiscal cost of direct health care and lost productivity attributed to the environment is between $46 billion and $52 billion annually. (S5)
  • More than 6,000 Canadians suffer from acute pesticide poisoning each year, resulting in emergency calls, hospitalizations, and occasionally deaths. (S6)
  • It is estimated that 28 percent of learning disabilities and developmental disorders are caused by environmental factors. (S7)
  • One in 3 Canadians will be diagnosed with cancer, partly because people are living longer, partly because other diseases have been vanquished, and partly because we live in a society where carcinogens are ubiquitous. Each year, Canadian industries pump into our air, water, and soil:
    • 22 million kilograms of carcinogens,
    • 16 million kilograms of hormone disruptors,
    • 4.3 billion kilograms of respiratory toxins,
    • and more than billion kilograms of reproductive/developmental toxins. (S8)
  • Cancer is now the second leading killer of children in Canada, behind accidents. (S9)
  • In 2012, a record 882,000 Canadians used food banks each month, the highest level of food bank usage ever. (F1)
  • The cost of poverty to Canada has been estimated at $72 to $86 billion per year, or about 5-6% of GDP. (F2)
  • In Hamilton, there is a 21-year difference in life expectancy between people living in high and low income neighbourhoods. (F3)
  • In 2010, 59% of Canadian workers lived paycheque to paycheque, “saying they would be in financial difficulty if their paycheque was delayed by a week”. (F4)
  • In 2009, per capita household debt, at $41,740, was 2.5 times higher than in 1989. In 2010, 20% of Canadians reported they had too much debt and trouble managing it. (F5)



  1. H1. Shields M. Overweight and obesity among children and youth. Health Rep 2006;17(3):27-42.
  2. H2. Katzmarzyk PT. Obesity and physical activity among Aboriginal Canadians. Obesity 2008;16(1):184-90.
  3. H3. Fennoy I. Metabolic and respiratory comorbidities of childhood obesity. Pediatric Ann 2010;39(3):140-6.
  4. H4. Daniels SR, Jacobson MS, McCrindle BW, Eckel RH, McHugh Sanner B. American Heart Association Childhood Obesity Research Summit Report. Circulation 2009; 119:e489-517.
  5. H5. Heart and Stroke Foundation. Help your kids be heart healthy. 2013.
  6. H6. Suicide Prevention. Region of Waterloo Public Health. 2013.
  7. H7. Health Canada. Reaching for the Top: A Report by the Advisor on Healthy Children and Youth. 2007.
  8. H8. Mental Health Commission of Canada. 2013.


  1. S1. Pruss-Ustun and Corvalan. Preventing Disease through Healthy Environments.
  2. S2. For an excellent sample of new studies, see the peer-reviewed scientific journal Environmental Health Perspectives, available at
  3. S3. Judek et al., “Estimated Number of Excess Deaths.”
  4. S4. CIHI, Canadian Lung Association. Health Canada, and Statistics Canada, Respiratory Disease in Canada.
  5. S5. Health Canada, Environmental Sustainability and Health.
  6. S6. David Suzuki Foundation, Northern Exposure.
  7. S7. Commission on Life Sciences, Scientific Frontier
  8. S8. Environmental Defence Canada, Toxic Nation.
  9. S9. David Suzuki Foundation. Prescription for a Healthy Canada. 2007.


  1. F1. Food Banks Canada. Hunger Count 2012.
  2. F2. Ontario Association of Food Banks. The Cost of Poverty. 2008.
  3. F3. Hamilton Spectator & McMaster University. Code Red. 2012.
  4. F4. Canadian Payroll Association
  5. F5. Certified General Accountants Association of Canada. Where is the Money Now. 2010.
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