I am writing this week’s blog from a place in my heart that drives me daily. I truly care about children. About their happiness. About the health. About their self-esteem. When I first moved back to Manitoba after being in Alberta for over ten years, I started doing some research about the health and wellness of children in the province I now call home. I was astounded at what I found. It turns out, Manitoba children are amongst the unhealthiest in the country. And I decided I want to do something about it.
To give you some context, here are the stats:
Manitoban children ages of 2 to 17 years old are more overweight and obese than Canadian children in general. 31% of Manitoban children are overweight/obese compared to 26% of Canadian children
Over the past 25 years, the overweight/obesity rate of youth aged 12-17 has more than doubled from 14% to 29%, and the obesity rate has tripled from 3% to 9%
Only 10% of Canadian youth are active enough to receive any heart health benefits
The appearance of type-two diabetes in children is increasing. In Canada, the problem is particularly apparent among Aboriginal children
23% of Manitobans either never exercise or exercise less than once a week, a rate of physical inactivity that is higher than the national average, and indicative of high health risk for nearly one-quarter of Manitobans
Only 56% of Manitoba adults exercise three or more times weekly, the minimum recommended for good health. This indicates that 44% of Manitobans do not exercise enough to maintain good health
Across Canada, rates of overweight (BMI = 27+) have more than doubled since 1985 from 13% to 29%. Today 34.2% of Manitobans have a BMI of more than 27. Counting those with “excess weight” (BMI = 25+), 54% of Manitobans are heavier than the internationally recognized standards of “acceptable weight,” compared to the national average of 48%. Fifteen per cent of Manitobans have a BMI of more than 30, classified as “obese” by international standards, compared to 12% of Canadians.
So for those who might be thinking being overweight is simply about appearance, listen closely – Obesity is the second most preventable cause of death. At recent rates of increase, it could soon surpass smoking to become the most costly preventable cause of death.
Now I want to bring this blog back to the children of Manitoba. There are numerous health issues that come from being an overweight child including type-2 diabetes, increased blood pressure and strain on the heart, lymphatic issues, respiratory issues, joint and muscle issues, puberty and menstrual issues, eating disorders, and the list goes on. But this is more than just a physical issue. There are numerous psychological issues that come with being a child who is overweight or obese including stress, anxiety, depression, issues with learning, and bullying.
This is not simply an issue of health any longer. Bullying it at an all time high, and children with weight issues are often the target in these situations. They are more often bullied or bullying than any other group. We want to strengthen these children not only in a physical sense, but perhaps more importantly, their souls, their self esteem and their self worth.
When Alli and I first set out to start Fit Communications, the conversation really started about our passions. Health and fitness are huge in our personal lives and drive us each and every day to be stronger women – both physically and mentally. But it is not just about our health and wellness. Our company’s goal was set up from the forefront – to utilize Healthy Marketing to create healthy, happy, engaged communities in the province of Manitoba and across Canada. We want to make a difference and work with like-minded people who want to do just that.
So as Alli and I continue to make strides with the government towards introducing our ideas for programming, I ask you the question, without healthy children, what do we as a society really have?