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Food & Drink

Canadians are fat, even by rich-people standards

In the past few years, Toronto has been overrun by gourmet dining options of the fattening variety. Whether they’re serving gourmet poutine made with duck confit or lovingly hand-crafted burgers topped with rosemary mayo, some of the hottest places to eat are also the fattiest. That may be one of the reasons that a new study has found Canadians are getting chunky, even compared to the residents of other wealthy countries (well, not the U.S., U.K. or Australia).

The Toronto Star has some of the details:

Canadians are far fatter than most compatriots in 32 other rich, industrialized countries, a comprehensive study reports Thursday.

On the plus side, we haven’t been getting that much worse.

And comprehensive prevention programs to fight obesity could save up to 40,000 lives in Canada a year, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development says.  “A common assumption is that individuals are in the best position to judge their own welfare,” the OECD says. But that doesn’t always work when people don’t realize the effect of what they eat.

Nor are only individuals at fault, the OECD says. Government subsidies for agriculture, transportation policies, and taxation on lifestyle goods play a role.

OK, the study does say Canadians aren’t actually getting any fatter—so the poutine and burger wars are probably not to blame here (pass the gravy)—but it does maintain that there are plenty of cost-effective forms of prevention the government could start right away. Some are better than others. A mass media campaign telling Canadians they’re fat doesn’t sound like a winner to us, but having governments alter those aforementioned subsidies might just do the trick.

Of course, if government is responsible, this might be the latest thing we can blame on the gravy train at city hall. Forget the Jarvis bike lane—we need wider sidewalks.

• Canada far fatter than most rich countries: study [Toronto Star] • Obesity and the Economics of Prevention: Fit not Fat - Canada Key Facts [OECD] • Canadians among fattest in western world: OECD [CTV News] • One in four Canadians obese: Study [Toronto Sun] • Chubby Canadians tip scales into the world’s fattest zone [Montreal Gazette]

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