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Canadian Community Health Survey

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In 2008, the vast majority of Canadians (91%) reported that they were satisfied or very satisfied with life. Life satisfaction was strongly linked to self-reported health status. Over half of Canadians said they were moderately active. Varying numbers of Canadians reported stress and mood disorders and were exposed to various lifestyle health risks including obesity or being overweight, smoking and exposure to second-hand smoke, and heavy drinking.

Life satisfaction

The highest rate of life satisfaction was 94% among teenagers aged 12 to 19. Boys in this age group were slightly more likely than girls to report satisfaction with life.

Satisfaction with life was linked strongly to health. Among those who were satisfied with life, 63% rated their overall health as very good or excellent, while 8% reported poor or fair health.

In contrast, 17% of those who were dissatisfied with life reported very good or excellent health and 54% reported their health to be poor or fair.

Life stress

Daily stress rates peaked at more than 28% in the working-age groups 35 to 44 and 45 to 54. These individuals are most likely to be managing multiple roles associated with career and family responsibilities. Women were more likely than men to report that most days were stressful. Stress tapered off at older ages. Just 10% of seniors found their days stressful.

Among those who reported that their days were quite a bit or extremely stressful, 82% said that they were satisfied or very satisfied with life. In comparison, of those who did not find their days very stressful, 96% were satisfied or very satisfied.

Mood disorders

In 2008, 6.8% of Canadians aged 12 or older reported that they had been diagnosed with a mood disorder such as depression, bipolar disorder or mania. This was up from 5.3% in 2003.

Women consistently reported significantly higher levels of mood disorders than men between 2003 and 2008.

Overall, women were more likely than men to report a diagnosed mood disorder: 8.5% compared with 5.0%. Women 45 to 54 (10.9%) and 55 to 64 (10.0%) showed an above average prevalence of such disorders. For men, only those aged 55 to 64 (7.4%) reported mood disorders at an above average rate.

Note to readers

This report features analysis based on data from the 2008 Canadian Community Health Survey. The analysis in this release covers selected indicators on stress and emotional health, and lifestyle health risks. Further analysis of other indicators will be released in tomorrow's Daily.

This survey collects a wide range of information about the health status of Canadians, factors determining their health status and their use of health care services. Information was reported by the respondents themselves.

Residents of Indian reserves, health care institutions, some remote areas, and full-time members of the Canadian Forces were excluded.

The information on obesity examines weight in relation to height based on body mass index (BMI). An individual 5 feet 4 inches tall (1.63 metres) weighing 145 pounds (66 kilograms) would be classified as overweight; a person that height weighing 174 pounds (79 kilograms), obese. At 6 feet (1.83 metres), the threshold for overweight is 184 pounds (84 kilograms), and for obesity, 221 pounds (100 kilograms).

Provincially, the proportion of diagnosed mood disorders exceeded the national average in 2008 in Ontario and British Columbia.

Obesity and overweight

In 2008, 51% of Canadian adults reported excess weight. About 17% of Canadians aged 18 or older reported weight and height that put them in the obese category, up from 15% in 2003.

From 2003 to 2008, obesity rates among men rose from 16% to 18%, and among women from 15% to 16%.

The highest rate of obesity (22%) was among 55 to 64 year olds: 24% of men and 21% of women in that age group were obese. Rates were lowest (8% for men and 5% for women) among teens aged 18 and 19.

Residents of rural areas were more likely to be obese than urban dwellers. The differences were even greater for the population with excess weight; 58% of rural residents were overweight or obese, compared with 50% of urban Canadians.

Only in British Columbia (13.5%) and Quebec (15.5%) were obesity rates significantly lower than the national average (17.2%).

Smoking and exposure to second-hand smoke

In 2008, about one in five Canadians aged 12 or older (21%) reported that they smoked, either daily or occasionally. This was down from 26% in 2001.

The smoking rate was highest in the age group 20 to 34 in which one-third of men and one-quarter of women were smokers. In every age group except for 17 and younger, men were more likely than women to report that they smoked.

Decreasing since 2003, the proportion of non-smokers aged 12 or older who reported they were regularly exposed to second-hand smoke at home fell from 7.4% in 2007 to 6.6% in 2008.

A higher percentage of men than women were exposed to second-hand smoke at home. Rates were highest among teenagers aged 12 to 19. All other age groups were at or below the overall average.

Heavy drinking

In 2008, 24% of men and 10% of women reported heavy drinking, defined as having five or more drinks per occasion at least 12 times a year.

This practice was more common among men than women in every province and territory and in every age group. The single exception was the age group 12 to 15, in which there was no significant difference between the sexes.

The groups most likely to report heavy drinking were men aged 18 to 19 (44%) and 20 to 34 (39%).

The heavy drinking rate was 15.5% for both British Columbia and Ontario, which was significantly below the national average (16.7%). In rural areas, 18% of the population engaged in heavy drinking, compared with 17% in urban areas.

Activity in leisure time

In 2008, 51% of Canadians were at least moderately active during their leisure time. This is equivalent to walking at least 30 minutes a day or taking an hour-long exercise class at least three times a week.

For both sexes, the percentage reporting at least moderately active leisure time was highest in the group aged 12 to 19: 77% for boys and 61% for girls. Among men, the percentage who were at least moderately active levelled off close to 49% after age 35 and remained at that level through their senior years. After age 20, the percentage of women who were at least moderately active stabilized at about 47% then dropped to 37% at age 65 or older.

The only provinces with leisure-time activity rates that were significantly higher than the national average in 2008 were British Columbia and Alberta.

Available on CANSIM: tables 105-0501, 105-0506, 105-0507, 105-0541 and 105-0543.

Definitions, data sources and methods: survey number 3226.

Visit the new Health in Canada module for the most up-to-date statistics on the health of Canadians and the health care system. The new module is also accessible from the Statistics Canada homepage.

Two products featuring results of Canadian Community Health Survey 2008 are released today from the Publications module of our website. The latest electronic issue of Health Indicators, 2009, no. 1 (82-221-X, free), provides a set of more than 30 health indicators for Canada, the provinces and territories, and the health regions.

In addition, the new Health Profile (82-228-X) online application is released, providing a place name search to find latest health data available for any health region in Canada.

For more information about the Canadian Community Health Survey, 2008, or to enquire about the concepts, methods or data quality of this release, contact Client Services (613-951-1746;, Health Statistics Division.

For more information, contact Media Relations (613-951-4636), Communications and Library Services Division.