Perceived health, 2013

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Perceived health is an indicator of overall health status. It can reflect aspects of health not captured in other measures, such as incipient disease, disease severity, physiological and psychological reserves as well as social and mental function. Perceived health refers to a person’s health in general — not only the absence of disease or injury, but also physical, mental and social well-being.

In 2013, 59.4% of Canadians aged 12 and older, roughly 17.7 million people, assessed their health as ‘very good’ or ‘excellent,’ unchanged since 2009.

From 2001 to 2007 males were more likely than females to report very good or excellent health, but from 2008 to 2013 there has been no overall significant difference between the sexes (Chart 1).

Chart 1

Description for Chart 1

The proportion of males reporting very good or excellent health decreased with age between ages 35 and 54, and then again after age 64. For females, it decreased with age between ages 20 and 54 and then again after 64 years of age. Males and females aged 45 to 64 had similar rates of very good or excellent health. Within each age group, there was no significant difference between the sexes (Chart 2).

Chart 2

Description for Chart 2

Body weight is an important factor in perceived health. Among Canadians aged 18 or older of normal weight—based on respondent-reported height and Health Canada guidelines on body mass index— 66.4% reported very good or excellent health. This was significantly higher than all other weight classes, where 57.9% of underweight Canadians, 59.6% of overweight Canadians and 42.2% of obese Canadians reported very good or excellent health (Chart 3).

Research has shown that people who feel a sense of belonging to a local community tend to enjoy better physical and mental health.Note 1 In 2013, 63.6% of people who reported a very strong or somewhat strong sense of belonging to their local community also reported very good or excellent health, compared with 53.8% of those who felt weaker ties to their local community.

Chart 3

Description for Chart 3

The proportion of residents who reported they were in very good or excellent health was lower than the national average (59.4%) in:

  • New Brunswick (54.0%)
  • Northwest Territories (54.6%)
  • Nunavut (39.0%)

The proportion of residents who reported they were in very good or excellent health was higher than the national average only in Alberta (61.9%).

Residents of the other provinces and Yukon reported rates that were about the same as the national average.

Because of the strong relationship between age and perceived health, provinces and territories with disproportionately younger populations are expected to have perceived health rates above the national average. The reverse is true for provinces and territories with older populations. To remove the effect of different age distributions when making provincial comparisons, please refer to the CANSIM table 105-0503 for age standardized rates.

End note


Ross, Nancy. 2002. “Community Belonging and Health.” Health Reports. Vol. 13, no. 3. Statistics Canada Catalogue no. 82-003. page 35. /studies-etudes/82-003/archive/2002/6105-eng.pdf (accessed May 10, 2010).


Additional data from the Canadian Community Health Survey are available from CANSIM table 105–0501 and 105-0503.

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