Recent studies have indicated that the province of Saskatchewan has the highest obesity rates in Canada. According to Canada.com, about 22 percent of the overall adult population is obese. A variety of factors have contributed to the rise of this epidemic within the region. Obesity rates are connected to more than diet and exercise, and in this province, a few of those factors are more common than elsewhere in Canada and the world as a whole.
Saskatchewan is one of the more densely populated regions in Canada and census data has shown that it has the second highest Aboriginal population in the country. Among Aboriginal populations in Canada, the obesity rates are as high as 37.8 percent in some communities. In recent years, increasing numbers of Aboriginals are choosing to live off-reserve, and obesity rates among those almost 10 percent higher than among those who stay on-reserve. According to the Canadian Forum for Policy Research, prevalence of obesity is an international trend seen among Aboriginal people in the United States, Pacific Islands, New Zealand and Australia. Michael Pollan has connected this trend to the adoption of a western diet that their bodies are not accustomed to.
Low socio-economic status is sometimes linked to obesity rates as well. Saskatchewan is one of the most affluent regions in the world, and the difference between the poor and the wealthy in the region seems to be reflected in the obesity epidemic. In the city of Regina, people of low socio-economic status are 12 percent more likely to be obese. Another factor that may contribute to the high obesity rates are Saskatchewan’s high rates of smoking. At 26 percent, the region has the highest smoking rates in the nation. A study by the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition showed that while light smokers may have lower body weight than most of the population, heavy smokers may have higher rates of obesity. Quitting smoking has also been shown to increase someone’s likelihood of being overweight. Considering the increasingly strict anti-smoking laws in Saskatchewan, this may be a significant factor in obesity rates.
Physical inactivity is, of course, still one of the biggest factors in obesity rates. A study by the Canadian Institute for Health Information supported this as an issue in Canada. In Saskatchewan, a more sedentary lifestyle may be related to the recent changes in the economy, which has shifted away from and agrarian and resource based economy to a services based one.
Canada has one of the highest obesity rates in the world, so considering that there is a direct correlation between the chances that a person will become obese and the number of obese people within their social networks, even higher local rates are to be expected.