Statistics Canada is constantly gathering and disseminating a wide variety of information about the Canadian population. This information can be very useful to businesses as they attempt to identify current market trends or predict new market segments.
A recently issued survey from Statistics Canada deals with the current state of health of Canadians and how these health measurements have changed over time. In general, the survey shows an increase in certain negative health factors; however, this needs to be weighed against the increase in the average age of Canadians.
High Blood Pressure
The incidence of high blood pressure is on the rise, with males catching up to females. In 2001, about 14% of females and 11% of males aged 12 or older reported having been diagnosed with high blood pressure. In 2010, these incidences rose to about 16% for both females and males. Some of the convergence of data is due to the fact that, prior to 2010, females were more likely than males to report that they were diagnosed with high blood pressure.
Obese individuals are more likely to have high blood pressure than individuals who are not obese. In 2010, one third of obese Canadians reported that they had high blood pressure, compared to only 15% of non obese Canadians.
Smoking and Second-Hand Smoke
In 2010, 21% of the population, or 6 million people, aged 12 or older reported that they smoked either daily or occasionally. Males reported a smoking rate of 24%, which is up from 23% in 2008.
Teenage smoking has been holding steady at 20% since 2005. The good news is that this is down significantly from 29% in 2001.
Teenage smoking is an indicator of long-term smoking and the drop in teenage smoking is slowly impacting the overall rate of decline for Canadians as whole. In 2010, 57% of women aged 20 to 24 indicated that they have never smoked, which is up significantly from 2003 when only 41% reported they have never smoked. Corresponding figures show that, in 2010, 45% of males in this same age bracket have never smoked, compared with 37% in 2003.
It is well documented that smoking impacts the general health of individuals. For those who have never smoked, 65% reported very good or excellent health compared with 60% of former smokers and 51% of smokers.
Second-hand smoke is also on the decline, with 15% of young people reporting being exposed to smoke at home, down from 23% in 2003.
Access to a Doctor
In 2010, 15% of the population over age 11, or 4.4 million people, reported that they did not have a regular medical doctor. This number declines with age: 27% of young people aged 20 to 34 reported not having access to a regular medical doctor, compared with only 5% of seniors.
Men were generally more likely than women to report that they did not have access to a regular medical doctor.
Of those who reported having no medical doctor, over 50% had tried unsuccessfully to find one. They reported that doctors in their area were not taking on new patients, the local doctor had retired or that no doctors were available in their area. This same group reported that more than 80% had a usual place to go for medical attention, care or advice. These included a walk-in clinic or hospital emergency room.
In 2010, 18% of the population over age 17, or 4.5 million people, reported heights and weights that classified them as being obese. This figure is on the increase: men increased from 16% in 2003 to 20% in 2010, and women increased from 15% to 18% during the same period.
Being overweight is also on the increase, with 52% of Canadians reporting that they are overweight, which is up from 49% in 2003.
Stress seems to be a way of life in the modern world, with 24% of Canadians reporting that they have suffered days that were extremely or quite stressful, up from 22% in 2008. Females were more likely to report stress than males, and stress was highest for the working ages of 35 to 54.
The collective health of Canadians is very important to Canadian society. It affects our economic and social well-being. Understanding Canadian health helps with the planning for simple things like the number of sick days that employers must anticipate through to more complex matters related to the amount and type of health care Canadians will need in the future.
E.O. & E.