An estimated 75 per cent of obese children become obese adults, according to the province.
Almost a decade ago, in 2004, 27.5 per cent of Ontario children between the ages two to 17 were overweight or obese. Childhood obesity rates for Canadian children between ages 2 to 17 had risen from 15 per cent in 1979 to 26 per cent in 2004.
Those facts have prompted the province to take action to give young people a healthier start in life. The Healthy Kids Panel presented on Feb. 4 its recommendations to help improve the health of children in Ontario.
The recommendations will inform the government's next steps to reduce childhood obesity, as set out in the province's Action Plan for Health Care.
Recommendations from the panel focus on enhancing pre-natal care for families and promoting breastfeeding; changing the food environment to increase the availability of healthy choices and expand nutrition programs in schools; and building healthy communities that encourage healthy eating and active living.
The panel drew from a broad range of experts, engaging health-care leaders, non-profit organizations, academia, and industry in developing evidence-based and cost-effective ways to reduce childhood obesity.
As a first step, the government is striking an inter-ministerial working group, chaired by Deb Matthews, Minister of Health and Long-Term Care, and Teresa Piruzza, Minister of Children and Youth Services to direct government action on implementing the panel's recommendations.
In 2009, the direct and indirect costs to Ontario’s health-care system and the economy associated with obesity were estimated to be $4.5 billion, according to the press release.
For more information on the panel and its report, visit www.health.gov.on.ca.