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Summary of key findings

Fitness of Canadian adults: Results from the 2007-2009 Canadian Health Measures Survey

Publication: Health Reports 2010:21(1)

Authors: Mark S. Tremblay, Margot Shields, Manon Laviolette, Cora L. Craig Ian Janssen and Sarah Connor Gorber

Data: 2007-2009 Canadian Health Measures Survey

Fitness levels of adults have declined substantially during the past quarter century, as demonstrated by first results from the Canadian Health Measures Survey. 

At the age of 40 to 69, the percentage of males and females whose waist circumference placed them at a high risk for health problems more than doubled between 1981 and 2009.  Among adults aged 20 to 39, proportions more than quadrupled.

Abdominal obesity, as reflected by a high waist circumference, is now regarded as the factor that indicates the greatest health risk from obesity.

On the basis of their waist circumference, 31% of women and 21% of men aged 20 to 39 were considered to be at high risk for health problems.  By the age of 60 to 69, the proportions were more than twice as high: 65% of women and 52% of men.

The waist circumference values of Canadian men and women appear to be lower than those of Americans.  The typical 45-year-old Canadian man had a waist circumference of 97.0 cm; the mean waist circumference of American men aged 40 to 49 in 2003-2004 was 101.9 cm.

The corresponding values for Canadian and American women were 83.4 cm and 95.2 cm, respectively.

Between 1981 and 2009, muscular strength fell in both Canadian men and women aged 20 to 59.  Flexibility also declined for both sexes among those aged 20 to 39 years and for men aged 60 to 69.

During this 25-year period, the proportion of Canadians aged 40 to 69 years categorized as fair or needing improvement according to their body composition (body mass index, waist circumference and skin-fold measurements) more than doubled.

Among males aged 20 to 39 years, the increase was four-fold, and among younger females, seven-fold.

Full article

For more information, contact Margot Shields (1-613-951-4177;, Health Analysis Division, Statistics Canada.