For Immediate Release
November 8, 2001

Dr. David McKeown
Medical Officer of Health
Region of Peel
905-791-7800, Ext. 2215

Medical Officer of Health Releases First Annual Report on the State of the Region's Health

(Brampton) - Childhood obesity, tobacco-related diseases, motor vehicle accidents and the relationship between personal wealth and health are the focus of the Peel Public Health's new report, The State of the Region's Health 2001.

The report, which demonstrates Peel residents enjoy relatively good health by provincial and national standards, uncovers some disturbing trends.

"Youth smoking rates are on the rise, childhood obesity is escalating at an alarming rate and there is a consistent gap between the health of the rich and the poor," says Dr. David McKeown, Medical Officer of Health for the Region of Peel.

During the 1990s, adult smoking and smoking-related diseases, particularly heart disease and male lung cancer, declined. During the same period, the smoking rates for youths aged 15-19 increased. The report suggests if the trend toward increased youth smoking rates continues this group will experience increased disease and death rates over the next twenty years.

Obesity is rapidly becoming a significant health concern in Peel and across Canada. 46 per cent of Canadians are overweight or obese, and are at increased risk of premature illness and death because of their weight. The proportion of Canadian children who are obese increased from five per cent in 1981 to 16.6 per cent for boys and 14.6 per cent for girls in 1996.

The report also reveals that higher income is consistently related to lower health risks and better health outcomes. "The overall health of Peel residents could be improved substantially if all residents were as healthy as those with the highest incomes," continues McKeown.

One of the report's brighter stories focuses on trends in motor vehicle accidents. The death rate from motor vehicle accidents decreased between 1986 and 1996, despite an increase in the number of vehicles registered in the Region. From 1990 to 2001, seat belt use increased among both drivers and passengers. Unfortunately, motor vehicle accidents are still the leading cause of death for children aged 1-19 years, and the second most common cause of death in young adults aged 20-44.

All of the issues in this report are important parts of the health landscape of the Region of Peel. The State of the Region's Health 2001 is the first of a series of annual reports highlighting key health issues and trends in the Region of Peel. The information in these reports is intended to help chart a course to better health for all residents of Peel.

The Region of Peel is a diverse community of nearly one million people, and is one of the largest public
health regions in Canada.

For more information on The State of the Region's Health 2001, call Health Line Peel at 905-799-7700 or visit

Communication Services, 10 Peel Centre Dr., Brampton, ON L6T 4B9
Phone: 905-791-7800, Fax: 905-791-0595 , e-mail
Web site:

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