In addition to the Canadian Community Health Survey (CCHS; see Box 1), the following key surveys are discussed in this chapter:
The First Nations Regional Longitudinal Health Survey (RHS) provides estimates of obesity, based on self-reported data, among on-reserve First Nations populations. For the 2002/03 survey, the final sample included 10,962 adults, 4,983 youth and 6,657 children from 238 communities across Canada. The 2007/08 RHS has been completed; however, results were not available at the time this report was prepared. Initiation of Phases 3 and 4 of the RHS are anticipated in 2011 and 2015, respectively.
Aboriginal Peoples Survey 2006Footnote 30
The Aboriginal Peoples Survey (APS) 2006 is a national survey of Aboriginal peoples (First Nations peoples living off-reserve, Métis and Inuit) living in urban, rural, and northern locations throughout Canada. The survey provides data on the social and economic conditions of Aboriginal children and youth (6-14 years) and Aboriginal people (15 years and over). Although First Nations living on-reserve were not included in the provinces, Aboriginal people living in the territories were included.
The APS is a post-censal survey, that is, the sample was selected from people living in households whose response on their 2006 Census questionnaire indicated that they (i) had Aboriginal ancestors; and/or (ii) identified as North American Indian and/or Métis and/or Inuit; and/or (iii) had treaty or registered Indian status; and/or (iv) had Indian Band membership.
Approximate sample sizes for youth and adults by population were as follows: all Aboriginal responses and multiple respondents (9,160 youth, 17,000 adults), North American Indian respondents (4,500 youth, 7,700 adults), Métis respondents (3,800 youth, 6,500 adults) and Inuit respondents (500 youth, 1,900 adults). Obesity estimates for Aboriginal groups are based on single responses for Aboriginal identity. For the purposes of this report, the term “First Nations off-reserve ” is used in lieu of “North American Indian” when discussing findings from the APS.
The methods for calculating the prevalence of obesity and using BMI to determine weight classes are consistent with the methodology of the CCHS (including the use of self-reported data). However, as the findings included in this report were based on the public use microdata file, statistical significance testing was not performed.
Other Data Sources
Other data sources referenced in this chapter include the Nunavut Inuit Child Health Survey as well as region-specific surveys.
Because there is no one data source for obesity among all First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples in Canada, this section provides a picture of obesity prevalence in Aboriginal populations by summarizing the findings from a number of relevant surveys (see Box 3). It begins by presenting recent estimates of obesity and research results for Aboriginal people including First Nations off-reserve, Inuit and Métis, and continues with separate group-specific data for First Nations (on and off-reserve), Inuit and Métis populations.
The use of BMI to estimate obesity among Aboriginal peoples provides a common reference point for comparing data among Aboriginal populations as well as with non-Aboriginal populations. However, it has been suggested that, among the Inuit, BMI may overestimate the prevalence of overweight and obesity, and their associated health risks.Footnote 31 Footnote 32 Further research is needed to confirm the prevalence of unhealthy body weights and their metabolic effects among the Inuit and in other Aboriginal populations.Footnote 7
|2007/08 CCHS||Aboriginal Peoples Survey 2006||2002/03 RHS|
|Total Aboriginal population (excluding First Nations on-reserve)||Total Aboriginal population (excluding First Nations on-reserve)||First Nations Off-reserve||Métis||Inuit||First Nations On-reserve|
|Notes: *Aboriginal Peoples Survey age group represented is ages 9 to 14 years.|
|Children and youth (6 to 14)||–||18.8||20.0||16.9||25.6||–|
|Adults (18 and over)||25.7||26.0||26.1||26.4||23.9||36.0|
|3 to 5||–||–||–||–||–||48.7|
|6 to 8||–||32.8||35.2||28.6||45.8||41.2|
|9 to 11(14)*||–||13.1||14.0||12.1||16.5||26.4|
|12 to 17||6.7||–||–||–||–||14.1|
|18 to 24||11.8||13.2||13.8||13.0||11.8||–|
|25 to 34||22.6||24.3||24.2||24.9||30.0||–|
|35 to 44||27.6||29.5||29.8||29.1||24.5||–|
|45 to 54||33.7||30.1||30.3||29.8||28.2||–|
|55 and over||31.9||29.9||29.4||31.8||27.2||–|
Source: 2007/08 Canadian Community Health Survey Share File, Statistics Canada (excludes non-responses); 2006 Aboriginal Peoples Survey Public Use File; 2002/03 First Nations Regional Longitudinal Health Survey.Footnote 28
Although the APS did not include children under the age of 6 years in its sample, results from the Nunavut Inuit Child Health Survey, conducted in Nunavut and involving 388 children aged 3 to 5 years, have estimated the prevalence of obesity to be 28%.Footnote 34
Limited data are available to examine changes in obesity prevalence over time in Aboriginal populations.
Surveys of the Inuit populations in Nunavik, a 500,000 km2 region of Quebec located north of the 55th parallel, were conducted in 1992 and again in 2004. Findings, based on measured data, indicate that obesity prevalence among adults ages 18 to 74 had increased by 49% (from 19% to 28%). Although prevalence rose among both sexes, the increase was more substantial among males than females (73% increase vs. 31% increase, respectively).Footnote 35
According to self-reported CCHS data, obesity among Aboriginal people (excluding First Nations on-reserve) living both in the North (i.e., Yukon, Northwest Territories, and Nunavut) and in southern Canada appear to have increased between 2000/01 and 2005: in the North, from 20.2% to 25.4%, and in southern Canada, from 22.7% to 25.3%. However, only among North-residing Aboriginals ages 55 and older was the difference over time statistically significant.Footnote 36 When the effects of age and sex were taken into account, the odds ratio of being obese was greater for Aboriginal people living in the North than for those in the south.Footnote 36 Additionally, a 2007 review paper of recent epidemiological evidence of obesity among the Inuit in the circumpolar region also concluded that obesity prevalence has “very likely” increased over the past several decades.Footnote 37
Self-reported obesity prevalence was significantly higher among Aboriginal people (excluding First Nations on-reserve) than non-Aboriginal people in Quebec, Ontario, Manitoba, Alberta and Canada as a whole (Figure 8). In most other provinces and territories the data seemed to follow the same pattern, but differences were not statistically significant. Additional analysis of the 2007/08 CCHS found obesity prevalence among Aboriginal youth (excluding First Nations on-reserve) aged 12 to 17 years to be 6.7%, compared with 4.4% among non-Aboriginal youth. This difference was not statistically significant.
Higher prevalence of obesity in Aboriginal than non-Aboriginal peoples has also been observed in other studies at both the nationalFootnote 33 Footnote 38 and regional levels – for example, among members of the Six Nations of the Grand River in southern Ontario,Footnote 39 First Nations and Métis populations in Alberta,Footnote 40 members of the Nuxalk Nation in British ColumbiaFootnote 41 and Aboriginal women in Manitoba.Footnote 42
Source: Analysis of the 2007/08 Canadian Community Health Survey, Statistics Canada.