Obesity Could Cost Taxpayers Billions: Report

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Link to Article | http://www.globaltvbc.com/Obesity+could+cost+taxpayers+billions+report/3525053/story.html

TUESDAY, September 14th 2010 (Global BC) – The long term costs of smoking, obesity and lack of physical activity in Manitoba is skyrocketing, and could very well cost taxpayers $4.7 billion by 2026.

The report is meant as a wake up call to all Manitobans and government to put more money into prevention programs.

“This report is meant to serve as a stimulus for discussion and we certainly hope and look forward to working with government colleagues and partners in creating a strategy to move forward,” said Cathy Steven, Executive Director of Health in Common.

Health in Common, the Heart and Stroke Foundation, Cancer Care Manitoba and other groups say prevention is key. The groups are calling on governments to spend more than$ 500-million a year to fund fitness and other measures. That could save the Manitoba economy $1.8 billion.

“Individuals can only make healthy choices when the healthy choices are the easy ones to make,” said Heart and Stroke Foundation member Dr. Elizabeth Ready.

“In our current society it’s very difficult as you know to be physically active and eat well, we’re all in a hurry,” said Ready.

And with obesity rates on the rise across Canada, some parents say more needs to be done to make healthy foods affordable.

“If you go into a grocery store what’s the cheapest thing you’re goning to find? A bag of chips, so if you want to eat healthy you’re paying a fortune,” said parent Julie Chan.

Single mom Brittany Delaquis says her 2 year old daughter likes vegetables but the fresh stuff is sometimes too expensive.

“She loves broccoli, apples,” she said.

“There’s times where I can’t, I don’t know the unhealthy foods are easier and quicker,” said Delaquis.

A spokesman for the province says it agrees with the report but can’t say how much it’s willing to spend on prevention programs.