Obesity, smoking, inactive kids are chronic problems calling for a province-wide public health prevention strategy, Ontario Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Arlene King says.
The release of King’s annual report Thursday, Public Health — Everyone’s Business, makes the case for health prevention and promotion as a central theme throughout all government policy making.
“It’s everyone’s business when 60% of Ontarians are overweight or obese; it’s everyone’s business when injuries are the single greatest cause of death for Ontarians under 45; it’s everyone’s business when in remote Aboriginal communities poverty, isolation and jurisdictional issues come together to create, from a public health perspective, the perfect storm,” King said.
“And it’s everyone’s business when a smoker in Ontario dies every 40 minutes,” she said.
An estimated 60% of Ontario adults and 26% of children are overweight or obese.
Bad nutrition, lack of exercise and smoking are contributing factors to chronic diseases such as type 2 diabetes and coronary heart disease.
During the Ontario experience with the H1N1 flu pandemic in 2009, people who suffered from chronic illnesses or smoked were far more likely to need hospitalization.
In fact, almost 90% of those who died during the flu outbreak had at least one underlying chronic condition.
King’s report notes Ontario government spending on tobacco control dropped to $42.8 million last year, down from $56.7 million in 2007-08.
King said the government has brought in tougher new tobacco rules, including banning smoking in vehicles where children are present, but needs to do more.
“We must not lose momentum,” King said. “We have plateaued.”
By ANTONELLA ARTUSO, Queen’s Park Bureau Chief