What are the biggest health risks facing Canadians today – and what should we be most concerned about heading into 2019? According to the Chief Public Health Officer’s 2018 report on the state of public health in Canada as well as data and reports from Health Canada’s website, there’s a lot to talk about. From an ongoing opioid crisis that has Canadians faced with the prospect of a nationally decreasing life expectancy, to new challenges in youth substance abuse, Canadians must rally now more than ever to educate themselves and work together toward a healthy future. These are the most common health concerns in Canada.
Youth Substance Abuse
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The Public Health Agency of Canada notes that adopting healthy behavours early on is vital in taking first steps to healthy living down the road. Unfortunately, less than 10% of children (aged 5 to 17) meet the 24-hour movement guidelines, set out to establish healthy standards for children and youth when it comes to activity, sedentary behavior and sleep. As for adults, 80% of people over the age of 18 do not meet physical activity guidelines.
There are physical and emotional consequences to childhood obesity, which include (but are not limited to): low self-esteem, depression, sleep apnea and bone and joint problems. Canada’s Food Guide suggests taking initial steps with your children like limiting their intake of soft drinks and similar beverages, substituting water in place of sugary drinks wherever possible.
The Opioid Crisis: Spotlight on Fentanyl
Between January 2016 and June 2018 there have been over 9,000 opioid-related deaths in Canada. Between 2016 and 2017 alone, emergency hospital visits have increased by 73% in Ontario, that percentage attributed entirely to opioid poisonings alone.
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In terms of prevention where possible, healthy lifestyle choices play a part in controlling risk for some types of type 2 diabetes, and there are medicinal options for those with pre-diabetes. Based on a lack of understanding around the causes of type 1 diabetes, there are no known measures of prevention currently in place.
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Sexually Transmitted Infections
The proof is in the numbers, with 800,000 hospitalizations in 2016/2017 in Canada attributed entirely to alcohol-based conditions. In 2016, as noted in the report, alcohol was “the leading cause of premature death and disability worldwide, among people aged 15-49 years.”
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