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Study: Health-promoting factors and good health among Canadians in mid- to late life

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A sizeable proportion of people aged 45 or older reported that they were in good health in 2009, based on their self-perceived general and mental health, as well as on measures of functional ability and independence in their daily life.

According to new data from the Canadian Community Health Survey: Healthy Aging, three-quarters (76%) of Canadians in mid-life (45 to 64) and 56% of seniors aged 65 or older reported good health.

Understandably, the prevalence of good health declines with age. However, even up to age 85, at least half the population was in good health in 2009.

As expected, the more chronic conditions people had, the less likely they were to have good health. Even so, good health existed in the presence of chronic conditions such as high blood pressure, arthritis and back problems, all of which were common among people aged 45 or older.

A number of factors over which individuals have some control were associated with good health. These were: not smoking, weight control, regular exercise, fruit and vegetable consumption, sleeping well, oral health, low stress, and participation in activities with family and friends.

About 84% of people aged 45 to 64 and 91% of seniors reported positive tendencies on four or more of these health-promoting factors. The more factors on which positive tendencies were reported, the greater the likelihood of having good health. For example, 77% of seniors who reported positive tendencies on all eight factors were in good health; among people aged 45 to 64, the figure was 92%.

The survey also found that Canadians aged 45 or older were slightly more likely to be in good health in 2009 than they had been almost a decade earlier.

These results are important because demographic projections show that Canada's population is aging. As the baby-boom population reaches 65 during the next two decades, this demographic change will accelerate.

Note: Data for the Canadian Community Health Survey: Healthy Aging, were collected between December 2008 and November 2009. The sample consisted of 30,865 people aged 45 and older, representing 13.6 million Canadians, living in private households in the 10 provinces.

Definitions, data sources and methods: survey number 5146.

The article, "Health-promoting factors and good health among Canadians in mid- to late life," which is part of today's Health Reports, Vol. 21, no. 3 (82-003-X, free) online release, is now available. From the Key resource module of our website, choose Publications. For more information about this article, contact Pamela L. Ramage-Morin (613-951-1760;, Health Analysis Division.

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

Today's online release also includes "Validation of self-rated mental health." This article assesses the association between self-rated mental health and selected World Mental Health-Composite International Diagnostic Interview-measured disorders, self-reported diagnoses of mental disorders, and psychological distress in the Canadian population. For more information, contact Farah N. Mawani (613-682-1862;, Mental Health Commission of Canada, Ottawa, Ontario or Heather Gilmour (613-951-2114;, Health Analysis Division.

For more information about Health Reports, contact Janice Felman (613-951-6446;, Health Analysis Division.