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Canadian Health Measures Survey: Household and physical measures data, 2012 to 2013

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Released: 2014-10-29

More than 6 in 10 Canadians aged 18 to 79 were either overweight or obese, based on their body mass index in 2012 to 2013. This was about double the proportion among children 5 to 17 years old, where 31% were classified as overweight or obese based on their body mass index.

These findings are part of cycle 3 of the Canadian Health Measures Survey, which focused on household and physical measures of Canadians, including data on height and weight, blood pressure and spirometry (lung function).

This is the first of several cycle 3 data releases.

Body composition of adults

Based on the directly measured body mass index, 62% of Canadian adults aged 18 to 79 were overweight or obese in 2012 to 2013, while 2% were underweight and 36% had a normal body mass index. The proportion of Canadians considered to be obese has doubled since the 1978/1979 Canada Health Survey (from 13% to 26%).

The prevalence of overweight and obese Canadians was greater in the older age groups. Males (78%) and females (59%) aged 40 and older were more likely to be overweight or obese than males (58%) and females (47%) 18 to 39 years of age.

Using the body mass index and waist circumference together, 41% of Canadians aged 18 to 79 (34% of males and 48% of females) were identified as having a body composition associated with increased health risk. (For more information, see "Body composition of adults, 2012 to 2013.")

Body mass index of children and youth

In 2012 to 2013, 31% of children and youth aged 5 to 17 were overweight or obese, based on their measured body mass index.

The prevalence of overweight and obesity differed by age group. Children and youth aged 12 to 17 (37%) were more likely to be overweight or obese than those aged 5 to 11 (26%).

Boys (15%) were more likely to be obese than girls (11%), but the two groups were equally likely to be overweight (19%). (For more information, see "Body mass index (BMI) of children and youth, 2012 to 2013.")

Blood pressure of adults

Canadian adults aged 20 to 79 had a measured average resting blood pressure of 112/71 mm Hg (millimetres of mercury) in 2012 to 2013.

Approximately 22% of Canadian adults aged 20 to 79 had high blood pressure (hypertension). High blood pressure was more than two times more likely among adults who were overweight or obese compared with their normal-weight counterparts.

Among those Canadian adults with high blood pressure, 16% were unaware of their condition and another 17% were aware of their condition but were either not being treated or the condition was not controlled. (For more information, see "Blood pressure of adults, 2012 to 2013.")

Blood pressure of children and youth

The average resting blood pressure of children and youth aged 6 to 19 was 96/62 mm Hg in 2012 to 2013. Among this group, 95% had a measured blood pressure that was considered normal, 3% had results considered borderline and 2% were categorized as having elevated blood pressure.

Children and youth who were classified as being overweight or obese had a higher average blood pressure than normal weight children. (For more information, see "Blood pressure of children and youth, 2012 to 2013.")

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease

Spirometry (lung function) results revealed that 11% of Canadians aged 35 to 79 had a measured airflow obstruction consistent with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). This was significantly higher than the 3% who self-reported a diagnosis of COPD by a health care professional.

Among the 11% of 35 to 79 year olds with measured airflow obstruction, 10% self-reported a diagnosis of COPD. (For more information, see "Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease in adults, 2012 to 2013.")

  Note to readers

Both the Canadian Health Measures Survey and the Canadian Community Health Survey – Annual Component produce fact sheets for some topics.

The Canadian Health Measures Survey fact sheets are based on directly measured data from physical measures tests administered to about 5,800 people, with only national data available. The Canadian Community Health Survey – Annual Component fact sheets are based on self-reported responses from about 65,000 people, and data are available at the national, provincial, territorial and health region levels.

More information on the differences between self-reported and directly measured data has been previously published in "A comparison of self-reported leisure-time physical activity and measured moderate-to-vigorous physical activity in adolescents and adults" and "Adjusting the scales: Obesity in Canada after correcting for respondent bias."

The fact sheets "Body composition of adults, 2012 to 2013," "Body mass index (BMI) of children and youth, 2012 to 2013," "Blood pressure of adults, 2012 to 2013," "Blood pressure of children and youth, 2012 to 2013" and "Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease in adults, 2012 to 2013," from the publication Health Fact Sheets (Catalogue number82-625-X), are now available from the Browse by Key resource module of our website under Publications.

Weight files and instructions are available for combining cycle 3 Canadian Health Measures Survey data (where possible) with equivalent data from cycle 1 and/or cycle 2.

The public is also invited to chat with an expert on Thursday, October 30, from 1:30 to 2:30 p.m., Eastern Time.

Contact information

For more information, or to enquire about the concepts, methods or data quality of this release, contact us (toll-free 1-800-263-1136; 514-283-8300;, or Media Relations (613-951-4636;

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