Smoking rates up in Nunavut, but so is life satisfaction

New statistics for 2014 show 62 per cent of Nunavut residents smoke


New health statistics reveal that Nunavut's smoking rates may be on the rise. (FILE PHOTO)

New health statistics reveal that Nunavut’s smoking rates may be on the rise. (FILE PHOTO)

Smoking rates in Canada continue to drop, but not in Nunavut.

The newly-released Canadian Community Health Survey for 2014 shows that the number of Canadians who smoke either daily or occasionally dropped to 18.1 per cent from 19.3 per cent in 2013.

But Nunavut’s smoking rate remains the highest in Canada at 62 per cent, nearly double that of the territory with the second highest smoking rate, the Northwest Territories, at 33 per cent.

Statistics Canada data from 2012 estimated that 54 per cent of Nunavummiut smoked, and up to 59 per cent in 2013. This suggest that the territory’s smoking rate might actually be rising.

The survey shows the impacts of smoking extend to non-smoking family and community members too: in 2014, 17.3 per cent of Nunavut residents said they were exposed to second-hand smoke in vehicles or public places during the month previous to the survey, while eight per cent said they were exposed to second-hand smoke at home.

The newly-released 2014 StatsCan data also noted that an increasing number of Canadian adults — 20.2 per cent — reported being overweight or obese.

That percentage was higher in Nunavut, where 49.4 per cent of adults reported a high body mass index, which would indicate that they are overweight.

At the same time, just over 60 per cent of Nunavut residents considered themselves “inactive,” while about 40 per cent say they engage in moderate physical activity during leisure time.

“Moderate activity” was defined as the equivalent of walking at least 30 minutes a day, or taking hour-long exercise classes at least three times a week.

The health survey also noted a drop in fruit and vegetable consumption across the country, which it defines as eating five or more servings in a given day.

Only 23.9 per cent of Nunavut residents eat that much fresh produce every day, compared to 39.5 per cent in the rest of Canada.

The Nunavut Food Guide encourages Inuit to eat a diet rich in country foods, but also suggests variety and balance, including portions of grains and produce.

But all things considered, people in Nunavut appear to be happy these days. In 2014, Nunavut respondents reported high “life satisfaction,” with 86.6 per cent saying they were either satisfied or very satisfied.

And 85 per cent of the territory’s residents reported to have a strong sense of belonging to a local community.

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