No, pear shaped doesn’t mean perfect

A study published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal in February says we’re living through fat times-and it’s costing us a bundle. "The Cost of Obesity in Canada" puts the bill for excess pounds at $1.8 billion-conservatively; the real total’s probably closer to $4 billion, more than five per cent of all healthcare costs. And that’s just direct costs-hospital care, the services of healthcare professionals, medication and research; the study didn’t include indirect costs, such as productivity loss due to disability and premature death.

Why are the figures so high? Because more than 20 per cent of all cases of high blood pressure ($656.6 million), Type II diabetes ($423.2 million), and coronary artery disease ($346 million), among other ills, can be directly attributed to obesity.

With the numbers in, the study’s authors say the next step is to evaluate and initiate turnaround strategies- such as prevention, diet, exercise, behaviour therapy, pharmacotherapy and surgery.

Unfortunately, knowing the facts on fat won’t make the battle any easier. Another report, "Obesity: Current Strategies for Primary Care Physicians," warns that only twohirds of those with significant obesity are trying to lose weight, and those most at risk may be the least likely to seek treatment.

The benefits, though, are clear: Recent research has shown that even a modest weight loss-10 per cent of our total body weight-can significantly reduce the risk of high blood pressure and Type II diabetes. For more information on how you can benefit, talk to your healthcare professional.