News / Vancouver

By the numbers: Metro Vancouver’s health check-up

Vancouver Coastal Health says the information released in the My Health My Community Survey on Tuesday can help shape healthier communities.

The authority’s chief medical health officer, Dr. Patricia Daly, says health indicators like commute mode, smoking rates, proximity to transit stops and sidewalk infrastructure and their correspondence to chronic health concerns is vital for municipal planning.

“That’s one of the things we’ve been doing, and are provincially mandated to do, is looking at the numbers with municipal governments to address ways they can deal with chronic diseases,” said Daly, after VCH and Fraser Health released findings from the largest community health survey ever conducted in B.C. on Tuesday.

For example, Daly says smoking remains the No. 1 preventable cause of illness and death in the region.

While public awareness campaigns are helpful, stiff municipal bylaws have lowered the percentage of smokers in Vancouver to just 12.1 in recent years.

Despite the success in reducing the number of smokers, Daly said Vancouver has an uncharacteristically high second-hand smoke exposure rate of 32 per cent.

“That can be because of smoking at transit stops and because the city is more dense, “ said Daly. “That’s something we need to look at now that we have the data.”

More than 33,000 people in 40 communities participated in the survey over two years.

The survey, identified as a necessary measure after the federal government controversially scrapped the long-form census, cost $600,000.

All survey results for the region and individual communities can be viewed at www.myhealthmycommunity.org.

Highlights

-Obesity in Metro Vancouver: 22 per cent

-Commute mode in Metro Vancouver: 55% cars, 28% transit, 14% walk/cycle

Vancouver Coastal Health chief medical officer said this is a key stat for communities looking to improve their health outcomes. Denser, urban areas have much higher uptake of active transportation. For example, 25.7 people in the City of Vancouver already commute daily by walking or cycling.

-Fitness: Just 44 per cent of the region’s residents get enough exercise (150 minutes of weekly physical activity).

-Lifestyle: VCH says binge drinking is becoming an increasing concern as fewer people smoke. Just 12.1 per cent of Vancouverites smoke, but 25.7 per cent have gone binge drinking at least once a month.

-Addicted to technology: 48 per cent of the region spends at least two hours of their day looking at a screen.

-Self-rated health: 49 per cent of residents say they have “excellent or very good” overall health. 16 per cent say their health is fair or poor.

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