When we look at the case of overweight and obesity, we can see that the concepts of sex and gender affect our understanding of the issue. Canadians as a whole have become heavier in the last two decades, but men are more likely than women to be overweight and obese. Are rates of overweight and obesity affected by other factors?
Consider the following three pieces of information and ask yourself who is at greatest risk of becoming overweight or obese. How, if at all, do rates of overweight and obesity among men and women change with age, income and ethnicity?
GRAPH 1. Percentage who self-reported being overweight and obese, by age group and sex, household population aged 18 and older, Canada 2009
GRAPH 2. Measured overweight and obesity by income and sex, household population aged 46-65 years, Canada (excluding territories), 2004
GRAPH 3. Percentage of overweight and obese adults by ethnicity, Canada
Question: After considering all the information above, who is at greatest risk of becoming overweight or obese? How, if at all, do rates of overweight and obesity among men and women change with age, income and ethnicity?
When we talk about overweight and obesity as an “epidemic” – or about any other issue as a “problem” – we need to remember that the issue may not be a problem for everyone or it may not be the same problem for everyone. The information we have looked at suggests that some populations are at much greater risk of developing overweight and/or obesity and, consequently, our responses to the issue must take these differences into account.