Canadians may not be as healthy as they think - survey

TORONTO (Reuters Life!) - Canadians may not be as healthy as they think and could be at risk for chronic diseases, according to a new survey.

Fewer than half of people questioned in a poll by the Environics Research Group said the threat of a serious illness would motivate them to adopt a healthier lifestyle.

“The survey reveals a gap between Canadians’ knowledge about healthy lifestyle behaviors and their willingness to adopt such behaviors,” the group said in a statement.

It showed more than 90 percent of people recognized physical exercise, healthy eating and reducing stress are important contributors to overall health.

But only 37 percent said the threat of a serious illness would motivate them to change their lifestyle habits.

“It’s time for Canadians to take a serious look at their habits and determine where they can improve,” said Sharon Zeiler, of the Canadian Diabetes Association which commissioned the survey funded by the healthcare company Novo Nordisk Canada.

She added that small changes in diet and exercise can mean a healthier future.

More than half of 2,357 people questioned knew that they should be eating five to 10 servings of fruits and vegetables a day but only 22 percent were compliant.

Most people said they thought 20 minutes of exercise five days a week was sufficient, although Canadian government guidelines recommend 30 to 60 minutes a day, according to the survey. Only 27 percent were meeting the five-days-a-week goal.

Most people cited lack of time and willpower as obstacles to changing exercise and eating habits.

“Eating healthy and getting physical activity every day are an important part of staying healthy and preventing chronic diseases such as type two diabetes,” Zeiler said.