Many Canadians live with multiple chronic conditions; efforts to improve lifestyle needed

A lack of physical activity, a poor diet, and too much stress are taking their toll on the health of Canadians, says a new UBC study. Researchers from UBC’s Faculty of Medicine caution that too many Canadians live with a number of health issues that impact their ability to lead healthy lifestyles.

Dr Brodie Sakakibara is an assistant professor with the Centre for Chronic Disease Prevention and Management based at UBC Okanagan. He and colleagues from UBC’s Department of Physical Therapy recently published a study examining how common it is for Canadians to have multiple, and serious, health conditions.

Stroke, heart disease, and diabetes are three of the most prevalent chronic diseases worldwide. These cardiometabolic diseases, mostly caused by lifestyle behaviors, are the leading causes of health resource use, hospitalizations, morbidity, and mortality in Canada. Using data from a 2016 Canadian Community Health Survey with 689 300 respondents, researchers investigated cardiometabolic multimorbidity (CM) and its connection to physical activity, diet, and stress. The study reports that the number of Canadians with CM or at risk of CM is high, and an increasing onset of cardiometabolic conditions is associated with higher chances of physical inactivity and stress. Sakakibara adds that health care management for people with multiple chronic diseases is traditionally based on disease-specific strategies often independent of one another, leading to fragmented care with multiple care providers and systems.

While becoming more active, lowering stress, and eating well won’t cure all ailments, Sakakibara says it would certainly be a step in the right direction. The study suggests the time has come for greater efforts to prevent CM in individuals at high risk, as well as efforts to help people with CM better manage their health and well-being. This study, partially funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research and the Michael Smith Foundation, was published in BMC Public Health. It is available at

. Many Canadians live with multiple chronic conditions; efforts to improve lifestyle needed. BCMJ, Vol. 62, No. 1, January, February, 2020, Page(s) 30 - News.

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