Peel Health Report
raises concerns about
the form ofour cities
Region of Peel – While the idea of 'big' has prompted millions of Canadians to flock to the suburbs: big houses, big driveways, big malls and the chance to raise big families – they may also be putting themselves at risk for a big problem: obesity. A just released Comprehensive Health Report, titled A Picture of Health, by the Region of Peel finds that the way we're building our suburbs with far distances between homes and stores, jobs and schools is an important contributor to obesity and its related diseases.
In Peel, practically every second person (47% of the population) is overweight or obese.
"Sprawling low-density development has been a widespread trend in Peel for the last ten years," says the report's main author and Region of Peel Medical Officer of Health Dr. David Mowat, "and solid evidence links such sprawl to lower levels of physical activity, transportation injuries, and poor air quality."
The real public health issue for the report's authors is the dramatic spike in diseases associated with obesity, notably diabetes, coronary heart disease, stroke and osteoarthritis. "The prevalence of diabetes in Peel has risen rapidly during the past decade," says Dr. Mowat, "and this increase is expected to continue due to an aging population, rising obesity rates and the influx of high-risk immigrant populations."
If you're new to the country and are hoping you're exempt from these risks, think again. Peel is a population of new immigrants (49%) and although they're healthy when they arrive, the report finds that the longer they stay the more likely they are to adopt the health behaviours of the average Ontarian.
Since a mass exodus from the suburbs – or the creation of more walkable neighborhoods – is not foreseeable in the near future, the Peel report is calling for a dedicated and proactive campaign to encourage citizens to eat well, move more and live longer.
"Canadians take it for granted that better prevention and treatment of disease is going to guarantee a longer lifespan, but it could all be jeopardized by the growing threat of obesity and its consequences, especially diabetes," said Dr. Mowat.
The full text of A Picture of Health is available online at