Cree Health Survey 2003, Canadian Community Health Survey, Cycle 2.1, Iiyiyiu Aschi : Food habits, physical activity and body weight

The survey was conducted during the summer of 2003 using a representative sample of residents aged 12 and older from the nine communities in Iiyiyiu Aschii: Chisasibi, Eastmain, Mistissini, Nemaska, Oujé- Bougoumou, Waskaganish, Waswanipi, Wemindji, and Whapmagoostui.

Food habits

  • There is a relatively low proportion (21%) of residents 12 and over who eat fruits and vegetables at least 5 times a day, compared to 51% for the rest of Quebec. Furthermore, the consumption of fruits and vegetables decreases with age, among both men and women.
  • A rather high percentage of adults (18 and over) reported selecting or avoiding specific foods based on health concerns or nutritional value.
  • Furthermore, as noted among other populations, dietary choices tend to be based primarily on health concerns as Iiyiyiu Aschii residents get older.
  • A great many people were concerned with losing weight.
  • Slightly more than a quarter of the Iiyiyiu Aschii adult population experienced some form of food insecurity in the year preceding the survey.
  • Some population groups living in Iiyiyiu Aschii seem more affected by food insecurity, including members of large households (6 persons or more) and adults of lower educational level.

Physical activity

  • Slightly more than 3 out of 10 adults (33%) were active during leisure time from May to September 2003. Conversely, slightly fewer than 3 out of 10 (27%) were sedentary during that period.
  • There is a greater proportion (41% vs. 23%) of men than of women who are physically active during leisure time. Accordingly, there is a smaller proportion of sedentary men (24% vs. 31%).
  • The proportion of women who are physically active during leisure time is the same for all age groups. Younger men (18 to 29) are more active than older men.
  • Nearly 1 out of every 2 (48%) youngsters (12 to 17) meets the required level of physical activity (very active) for that age group from May to September 2003. In contrast, nearly 1 out of 3 youngsters (33%) attained less than half of this level of physical activity.
  • Just as with adults, more boys than girls (59% vs. 37%) meet the recommended level of physical activity. Conversely, a greater proportion of girls do not meet half of the recommended level of physical activity (41% vs. 24%*).
  • Nearly 8 out of 10 adults (77%) and 9 out of 10 (90%) teenagers reported using walking as a mode of transportation from May to September 2003. Respective percentages for cycling were 11% and 34%.
  • Work or main occupation physical requirements in Iiyiyiu Aschii have become essentially similar with those of the rest of Quebec and Canada, but remain slightly more demanding for men.
  • Individuals who are less active at work (or in the course of their main occupation) and/or during transportation tend to be less active in their free time. Here as elsewhere, “sedentariness seems to attract sedentariness”.

Body Weight

  • More than half (51%) of adults are obese (BMI ≥ 30) while 1 out of 3 (33%) adults is overweight (BMI: 25 to 29.9). Respective percentages are 20% and 28% among teenagers 12 to 17.
  • Overall, more adult women than men (57% vs. 47%) suffer from obesity. The proportion of obese teenagers 12 to 17 does not vary according to gender.
  • The proportion of obese adults (BMI ≥ 30) within the Cree population has increased from around 39% to around 55% between 1991 and 2003. The increase is more pronounced in the 15 to 24 age group
  • In general, perception of excess weight (BMI: 25 and over) tends to be lower than the data obtained for the population as a whole. This tendency to underestimate is especially pronounced within the overweight class (BMI: 25 to 29.9). As a whole, women tend to have a more accurate perception of excess weight.
  • Adults of higher educational level and those who are physically active during leisure time tend to have less serious issues with weight. Conversely, adults who reported selecting or avoiding some foods because of weight concerns and adults who experienced food insecurity tend to have more weight problems.
Carole Blanchet
M. Sc., épidémiologiste, Institut national de santé publique du Québec
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