Albertans have enough on their plate to worry about with dropping oil prices hurting the provincial economy, but they may have to add one more thing — a potential increase in obesity rates.
Dr. Arya Sharma, a professor and chair of obesity research at the University of Alberta, says the economic situation is likely to lead to significant weight gain in the province.
“Depression, anxiety, food insecurity, insomnia and simply being unable to afford healthy food are all important risk factors for weight gain,” writes Sharma on his blog.
“As medical professionals, we need to acknowledge that unemployment and the worries that come with it can make our patients more susceptible to weight gain — let us not miss the opportunity for prevention.”
“Depression, anxiety, food insecurity, insomnia and simply being unable to afford healthy food are all important risk factors for weight gain.”
Dr. David Lau, an expert in obesity at the University of Calgary, told the National Post, “It’s worth alerting people to the possibility this may drive up not-so-healthy eating, and a rise in obesity as a result.”
Alberta already has a higher obesity rate than the national average. Nearly six out of 10 Albertans are overweight or obese, according to a report released by the Health Quality Council of Alberta.
While exercise and eating healthy are the best choices, their costs could be a barrier as Alberta sheds jobs.
Healthy food is set to become even more unaffordable in 2016, thanks to Canada’s dropping dollar and the impact of climate change on fruit and vegetable farming, according to a forecast published by the University of Guelph.
And worrying won’t help. Stress can cause an increase in abdominal fat and impaired blood-sugar control, writes dietitian Leslie Beck in the Globe and Mail.
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