Objective: To investigate ethnic differences in obesity and physical activity among Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal Canadians.
Methods and Procedures: The sample included 24,279 Canadians (1,176 Aboriginals, 23,103 non-Aboriginals) aged 2–64 years from the 2004 Canadian Community Health Survey (CCHS). Adult participants were classified as underweight/normal weight, overweight (BMI 25–29.9 kg/m2) or obese (BMI ≥ 30 kg/m2). Children and youth 2–17 years of age were classified as normal weight, overweight or obese based on the International Obesity Task Force criteria. Leisure-time physical activity levels over the previous 3 months were obtained by questionnaire in those aged 12–64 years.
Results: The prevalence of obesity in adults was 22.9% (men: 22.9%; women: 22.9%), and the prevalence was higher among Aboriginals (37.8%) compared to non-Aboriginals (22.6%). The prevalence of obesity in children and youth was 8.2% (boys: 9.2%; girls: 7.2%), and the prevalence was higher among Aboriginals (15.8%) compared to non-Aboriginals (8.0%). In both youth and adults, the odds for obesity were higher among Aboriginals (youth: OR = 2.3 (95% CI: 1.4–3.8); adults: OR = 2.4 (95% CI: 1.6–3.6)) after adjustment for a number of covariates. There were no ethnic differences in the prevalence of physical inactivity; however, physical inactivity was a predictor of obesity in both the Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal samples.
Discussion: The prevalence of obesity is higher among Canadian Aboriginals compared to the rest of the population. Further research is required to better delineate the determinants of obesity and the associated health consequences in this population.