Health policies and data

Obesity and the Economics of Prevention: Fit not Fat - Canada Key Facts


 Other Countries | Further Reading


1. Obesity rates are high in Canada, relative to most OECD countries, but they have not increased substantially in the last 15 years. Two out of 3 men are overweight and 1 in 4 people are obese in Canada, but the rate of increase has been one of the slowest in the OECD. The proportion of people overweight is projected by the OECD to rise a further 5% during the next 10 years. 


Past and projected overweight rates


Underlying data and charts for all the graphics below are also available in Excel


2. Overweight and obesity are more common in men, but large social disparities exist in women. Women with poor education are almost twice as likely as more educated women to be overweight, but this gap is not present in men.


Relative Index of Inequality in Overweight by Education level


3. Individual prevention programmes could avoid up to 25 000 deaths from chronic diseases every year. Deaths avoided could increase to 40 000 if different interventions were combined in a comprehensive prevention strategy. An organised programme of counselling of obese people by their family doctors would also lead to an annual gain of 40 000 years of life in good health.


Health Outcomes at the Population Level (Average Effect per Year)

4. How much does prevention cost? How much does it save? Most prevention programmes would cost less than CAD 200 m every year, with individual counselling by family doctors costing up to CAD 700 m. Most prevention programmes will cut health expenditures for chronic diseases, but only by a relatively small margin (up to CAD 90 m per year).


Economic Assessment of the Interventions at the Population Level (Average Effect per Year)


5. Is prevention cost-effective? Prevention can improve health at a lower cost than many treatments offered today by OECD health systems. In Canada, all of the prevention programmes examined will be cost-effective in the long run – relative to the internationally accepted standard of around CAD 50 000 per year of life gained in good health. However, some programmes will take a longer time to produce their health effects and therefore will be less cost-effective in the short run.


Cost per life year gained in good health of interventions to tackle obesity



Other Countries













United States

United Kingdom





Further Reading


Public Health


Key Health Publications


Key Analytical Health Projects


Return to the main page


Related Documents