Want to create a healthier country? Start by creating fitter cities
2020-01-03 from theglobeandmail.com
Karen K. Lee is a physician and Director of Housing for Health and an associate professor in the Division of Preventive Medicine in the Department of Medicine at the University of Alberta. She is the author of the new book Fit Cities: My Quest to Improve the World’s Health and Wellness – Including Yours.
Every January, people resolve to lose weight, eat healthy and be more active. Yet, by the end of the month, most people who started the year with the best of intentions have given up, usually having failed in the behaviour changes they had planned to make.
At the same time, provincial health-care budgets across the country have been rapidly rising because of our current non-communicable disease (NCD) epidemics such as diabetes, cancers, cardiovascular diseases and mental-health issues. Childhood obesity has risen even more rapidly and we are now seeing chronic diseases previously unseen until middle and old ages, conditions such as type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol, in children and young adults. Complications such as heart disease and strokes, blindness, kidney failure requiring transplants or dialysis, now likely await these children in early adulthood. Rapidly rising health-care costs across Canada are increasingly affecting available budgets for other critical provincial areas such as education and municipal infrastructure. Aging populations and air pollution also affect rates, complications and mortality from these diseases.
Much has been done around health education. But the epidemics of obesity and diabetes in Canada – and the health-care and societal costs from them – continue to rise. The need for solutions is dire.
The good news is there are solutions.
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