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According to new data from the Canadian Community Health Survey (CCHS), one in seven or 4.1 million Canadians aged 12 and older suffered an activity-limiting injury in 2009. About 35% of these injuries occurred while taking part in sports or physical exercise, the most common type of injury-causing activity. The data also showed that among the 11.4 million people who reported bicycling, 46% said they never wore a helmet whenever they cycled.

Activity-limiting injuries

Just over 4.1 million Canadians aged 12 and over, or about 15% of this population, suffered an injury severe enough to limit their usual activities in 2009. This was up from 3.4 million, or 13%, in 2001.

Of those injuries, 55% received medical attention within 48 hours in 2009, down from 64% in 2001.

The most common cause of injury reported by Canadians was falls. In 2009, nearly 1.7 million people, or 41% of those who reported an injury, stated they were injured in a fall. This was more common among women (46%) than men (36%).

Taking part in sports or physical exercise was the most frequent type of activity (at the time the injury occurred) for both males (41%) and females (28%). Walking (19%) was the second most common injury-related activity for females, followed by household chores (13%). For males, the next most common activities were working (17%) and doing household chores (15%).

In 2009, adolescents aged 12 to 19 had the highest injury rate of all age groups covered by the survey at 26%. The injury rate for adolescent girls rose from 18% in 2001 to 23% in 2009, while the rate increased for adolescent boys from 27% to 29% during the same time period.

In 2009, the majority of adolescent boys (70%) and adolescent girls (59%) were injured while participating in sports or physical exercise.

Bicycle helmet use

The CCHS also examined the use of helmets for various sports including bicycling. Among the 11.4 million people aged 12 and over who reported bicycling in the past year, almost half (46%) never wore a helmet.

In terms of differences between the sexes, men were more likely to never wear a helmet (48% versus 43%).

Note to readers

This article features analysis based on data from the 2009 Canadian Community Health Survey. The analysis in this release covers selected health indicators on activity-limiting injuries, bicycle helmet use, breastfeeding, functional health, smoking, access to a regular medical doctor, and obesity.

This survey collects a wide range of self-reported information about the health status of Canadians, factors determining their health and their use of health care services.

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

Injuries in this article include sprains, broken bones, cut and burns, but exclude repetitive strain injuries.

Functional health featured in this release is based on an adapted version of the Health Utility Index Mark 3 tool developed at McMaster University. It measures a person's overall functional health using eight attributes: vision, hearing, speech, mobility, dexterity, feelings, cognition and pain.

Although 37% of Canadians always wore a bicycle helmet, this varied considerably across the country. Nationally, five provinces and one territory had rates of bicycle helmet use above the Canadian average: Nova Scotia (66%), British Columbia (59%), New Brunswick (51%), Prince Edward Island (51%), Yukon (51%) and Alberta (48%). Each of these jurisdictions has some form of bicycle helmet legislation.

Conversely, those jurisdictions with rates of bicycle helmet use below the national average were Manitoba (22%), Saskatchewan (23%), Quebec (26%), Northwest Territories (28%) and Ontario (34%). Of these, only Ontario has a provincial bicycle helmet legislation.

In Newfoundland and Labrador, 38% of people reported always wearing a bicycle helmet, a rate comparable to the national rate.


In 2009, nearly 88% of women between the ages of 15 and 55 who had given birth in the past five years breastfed their most recent baby, even if only for a short time.

Of the new mothers who did not attempt to breastfeed, medical factors were cited by 28% as the reason for not breastfeeding while an additional 25% said that breastfeeding was "unappealing" and nearly 20% said that bottle feeding was easier.

Of those who did breastfeed, 7% stopped after less than one week and 21% stopped by one month. Just over half of new mothers who initiated breastfeeding (54%) continued for six months or longer, while 16% breastfed for more than a year.

Functional health

In 2009, 82% of Canadians aged 12 or older were in good to full functional health according to the Health Utility Index Mark 3.

Generally, functional health decreases with age. The percentage with good to full functional health was highest among those aged 20 to 34 (88%), but then declined with age.

Overall, men were somewhat more likely to be in good to full functional health than women, although this difference was generally more pronounced in later years. At the age of 55 and older, men were more likely than women to show good to full functional health. For example, among those over the age of 74, 62% of men were in good to full functional health compared with 56% of women.


In 2009, one-fifth of Canadians aged 12 or older, or roughly 5.7 million people, smoked either daily or occasionally.

Smoking rates in Canada continued to decline in 2009. The rate for men was 23% compared with 28% in 2001. Among women, the rate was 18%, down from 24% in 2001.

People typically begin smoking during their teenage years. Consequently, the percentage of Canadians who have not started by age 20 is an indicator of future smoking rates. In 2009, 47% of males aged 20 to 24 had never smoked, up from 36% in 2001. Meanwhile, 54% of similarly aged females had never smoked in 2009, compared with 42% in 2001.

Access to a regular medical doctor

About 85% of Canadians aged 12 or older reported they had a regular medical doctor, up slightly from 84% in 2008.

For most age groups, men were more likely than women to report not having a regular doctor in 2009. The largest difference was in the 20 to 34 year old age group, with 33% of men reporting that they did not have a regular doctor compared with 19% of women. This difference, however, decreased with age.

Among the 15% of Canadians who did not have a regular doctor, 54% said they had not looked for one, while 44% reported they could not find one.

When they needed medical care, 61% of people without a regular doctor said they went to a walk-in clinic, while 13% went to an emergency room.


About 18% of Canadians aged 18 or older, or roughly 4.4 million people, reported height and weight that classified them as obese in 2009. This was up from 15% in 2003.

From 2003 to 2009, obesity rates among men rose from 16% to 19%, and among women, from 15% to 17%.

The CCHS data regarding obesity were based on self-reported weight and height measurements. For height and weight data that are physically measured, please refer to the Canadian Health Measures Survey.

Available on CANSIM: table 105-0501.

Definitions, data sources and methods: survey number 3226.

For more statistics and analysis on the health of Canadians and the health care system, visit the Health in Canada module. The module is also accessible from the Statistics Canada homepage.

Two products featuring the most recent results from the Canadian Community Health Survey 2009 are now available from our website. The new Health Profile (82-228-X, free) online application provides a place name search to find latest health data available for any health region in Canada. The publication Health Fact Sheets (82-625-X, free) is also now available. From the Key resource module of our website, choose Publications. You can also consult the latest electronic issue of Health Indicators, 2010, no. 1 (82-221-X, free), which provides a set of more than 35 health indicators for Canada, the provinces and territories, and the health regions.

For more information about the Canadian Community Health Survey, 2009, or to enquire about the concepts, methods or data quality of this release, contact Client Services (613-951-1746;, Health Statistics Division.

For additional information on this release, contact Media Relations (613-951-4636), Communications and Library Services Division.