AMHERST – Cumberland County has been recognized by Maclean’s magazine as the second fattest region in Canada.
“That’s interesting,” said Ann Keddy, director of public relations at the Cumberland Health Authority. “But not surprising.”
On newsstands now, The Maclean’s Book of Lists has a section called ‘Life, Love & Sex.’
Under the topic ‘Health’ is a list of ‘The 10 most overweight regions of the country.’
Rated second is Colchester East Hants/Cumberland, N.S., health region with 71.3 per cent of the population overweight or obese.
“Overall, we don’t take good care of ourselves,” said Keddy. “We have high rates of a number of chronic diseases, including diabetes and high blood pressure and a number of other areas where we don’t rank very well.”
Keddy points to the H1N1 crisis of 2009 as a good example of the lack of concern for health among resident of Cumberland County.
“Almost half of the population of Nova Scotia took advantage of the vaccine but in Cumberland County we were barely above 30 per cent, so that’s a good example of the fact that people don’t take good care of themselves,” said Keddy.
Asked why Cumberland County lags behind the rest of the country, Keddy said:
“Maybe part of it is because we’re largely rural.”
“We do have facilities in communities like Springhill and Amherst that have rinks and walking tracks but, because we’re largely rural, maybe people don’t take advantage of the facilities,” she added. “There’s parks and other facilities people can use in towns but those facilities might not be getting used by people in more rural communities.”
Sixty-nine-year old Doug Dobson can be found most weekday mornings walking the track at the Dr. Carson & Marion Murray Community Centre in Springhill.
The Sprinhiller said the second-place ranking should be a wakeup call to the citizens of the region.
“When you hear that statistic it’s kind of alarming,” said Dobson. “It sends a strong message that maybe more emphasis has to be put on the weight problem.”
Dobson walks 16 laps around the track Monday through Friday.
He says 16 laps is, “two miles (3.2 kilometres).”
Dobson admits he’s not the poster boy for fitness, and said he walks mainly to counter his love of food.
“Over the years I’ve always been fairly active but I also was a pretty good enjoyer of foods,” he said.
He would like to return to the weight he was during his hockey playing days, which was about 220 pounds, but said he would need to lose about 40 pounds to get there.
“I was much younger then,” he said with a laugh.
Even though he hasn’t lost much weight, Dobson said walking helps him stay active.
“I feel if I’m walking then the engines inside me are getting a workout,” he said. “When I don’t walk I can feel it.
“If I stop for a week or two weeks I find it hard to get back into it, but once I get going again on a consistent basis and get my two miles in a day I feel better.”
Dobson believes healthy people make for a healthy community.
“When you’re active you participate in many more things,” he said.
Dobson said county residents do come to Springhill to use the walking track, but he would like to see even more people from the county use the walking track in both Springhill and Amherst.
“I look forward to it now, not only to walk, but to walk with people and share stories,” he said “It can be fun, so bring a partner. The more the merrier.”
10 most overweight regions of Canada according to Maclean’s:
(health regions, followed by percentage of population overweight or obese)
1 – Burntwood, Churchill, Manitoba; 73.4 per cent
2 – Colchester East Hants, Cumberland, Nova Scotia; 71.3
3 – South Shore, South West, Nova Scotia; 70.2 per cent
4 – Prince Albert Parkland region, Saskatchewan; 69.9
5 – North-Manitoba region, Manitoba; 68.6
6 – Prairie North region, Saskatchewan; 68.5
7 – Interlake region, Manitoba; 68.4
8 – Kelsey Trail region, Saskatchewan; 68.3
9 – Central region, Newfoundland; 68.1
10 – Sunrise region, Saskatchewan; 68.1
Three fittest regions of Canada:
1 – Vancouver, British Columbia; 35.0
2 – Toronto Central region, Ontario; 39.3
3 – Fraser region, (East Vancouver) British Columbia; 43.9
(Statistics courtesy of MacLean’s)