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About 4.1 million people, 15% of Canadians aged 12 and older, did not have a regular medical doctor in 2007, either because they were unable to find one, or because they had not looked. This proportion was up three percentage points since 1996/1997.

Of these individuals, 3.3 million people did, however, have some place to go: 64% sought treatment in a walk-in or appointment clinic, 12% went to a hospital emergency room, while 10% went to a community health centre. The remaining 14% used other types of health care facilities or services such as hospital outpatient clinics, telephone health lines or doctor’s offices.

Having a regular doctor, smoking, and overweight or obesity levels are some of the indicators that can influence health.

Although smoking has declined, one fifth of the population aged 12 and older smoked either daily or occasionally in 2007. Rates of smoking among youth aged 12 to 19 have declined since the 1990s. About 400,000 Canadians in this age group, 12% of the total, smoked daily or occasionally. In 2007, 13% of young men smoked, compared with 17% in 1998/1999. Among young women, 12% smoked compared with 22%.

Smoking rates remained highest among adults aged 20 to 44, 28% of whom smoked either daily or occasionally. One third of men in this age group smoked, as did one-quarter of women.

Obesity increasing

Obesity levels, self-reported by Canadians, have increased: 4 million Canadians aged 18 and older, 16% of the total adult population in 2007, were in the obese category. Another 8 million Canadians, or 32%, were overweight. 

The percentage of Canadians who are overweight or obese rose dramatically from 1985 to 1994/1995, but obesity levels appear to have stabilized in recent years.

Among the provinces, rates of obesity in 2007 were highest in Saskatchewan, Alberta and the Atlantic provinces, ranging from 18% in Alberta to a high of 22% in Newfoundland and Labrador. The lowest rates were in British Columbia, where 11% of adults were obese.

Activity levels have been linked to obesity and health. In 2007, 52% of men and 47% of women aged 12 and older were active or moderately active during leisure time.

Healthy Canadians

Most Canadians today consider themselves to be healthy. In recent surveys, 60% said their health is either very good or excellent.

A girl born in 2006 can expect to live 83.0 years, compared with 62.1 years in 1931. A boy can expect to live 78.4 years, compared with 60.0 years in 1931. Despite an aging population, death rates were constant at 7.1 deaths per 1,000 population from 2001 to 2005.

Cancer and heart disease were the two main causes of death in 2005, followed by stroke, accidents, chronic lower respiratory disease, diabetes, influenza and pneumonia, Alzheimer’s disease, suicide and kidney disease.