Obesity is the “Next Epidemic”, Health Ministers Warns

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Link to Article: http://www.vancouversun.com/health/Obesity+next+epidemic+health+ministers+warn/5766183/story.html

Written By: Richard Foot

FRIDAY, November 25th, 2011 (Vancouver Sun)– Canada’s health ministers issued separate but similar warnings Thursday that obesity – specifically child-hood obesity – is now a critical national health concern and a major contributor to rising health care costs.

Obesity is the “next epidemic,” said federal Health Minister Leona Aglukkaq, speaking in Ottawa to a Senate committee studying the health system.

Provincial and territorial health ministers, meeting in Halifax, were even more emphatic. “It’s not the next epidemic, it’s the present epidemic,” said Quebec Health Minister Yves Bolduc.

The ministers are gathered in Halifax for a two-day summit to start outlining priorities for the next national health accord, which will replace the existing 2004 health care funding agreement between Ottawa and the provinces that expires in 2014.

It’s not yet known whether the Harper government will renew the funding deal, in which Ottawa raises its health transfers to the provinces by six per cent a year, or whether federal cuts to the transfer are coming.

Nova Scotia Health Minister Maureen MacDonald was at pains to point out that the health ministers are not dealing with the details of a new accord. Those discussions are left to the country’s premiers.