Newfoundland gets D grade for healthy living

Deana Stokes Sullivan
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Newfoundland and Labrador has been given a “D” grade in a new Conference Board of Canada report on healthy living.

The province was given an overall D grade and individual Ds for four of five lifestyle factors.

The behaviours in the lifestyle factors category include:

·   Heavy drinking;

·   Overweight or obese adults;

·   Smoking;

·   Fruit and vegetable consumption;

·   Physical activity.

Newfoundland and Labrador was given a D in all categories, except smoking. In that category, the province received a better ranking — but not much better — a C.

This analysis is part of a bigger report, titled "Paving the Road to Higher Performance: Benchmarking Provincial Health Systems," released Thursday.

British Columbia earned the best grade among the provinces, obtaining As in all but one indicator. It was given a B in fruit and vegetable consumption.

Ontario, Alberta and Quebec earned overall B grades. Quebec achieved A grades in two indicators — overweight or obese adults, and fruit and vegetable consumption, but its overall grade fell to a B because of comparatively high smoking rates and a lower level of physical activity.

 Prince Edward Island, received two B and three D grades for the five lifestyle factors and an overall D grade.

 “The provinces that rank higher in lifestyle factors also perform better in overall health status. These findings highlight the importance of health promotion and disease prevention programs to control demand for health care services,” Gabriela Prada, the conference board's director of health innovation, policy and evaluation, said in a news release.

 “Our analysis is not meant to ‘shame and blame’ provinces that do relatively poorly on any given indicator,” said Prada. “Our intention is to identify performance achievements and gaps so that all provinces are better equipped to make decisions that will improve health care systems and population health.”

The latest findings released are the second of four categories published by the Conference Board of Canada in its benchmarking of provincial health systems, produced under the Canadian Alliance for Sustainable Health Care. In all, 90 indicators are assessed in the categories of lifestyle factors, health status, health resources, and health care system performance.

The remaining segments to be released are health system resources and performance on May 22 and overall grades on May 23.

The overall findings will be revealed at the Conference Board of Canada’s Western Summit on Sustainable Health, being held May 22-23 in Edmonton, Alta.

Organizations: Conference Board of Canada, Benchmarking Provincial Health Systems, Canadian Alliance for Sustainable Health Care

Geographic location: Newfoundland and Labrador, Quebec, Ontario Alberta Prince Edward Island Edmonton

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  • Jamie
    May 21, 2013 - 19:18

    I would just like to say, that I am a Newfoundlander. I buy local food when possible and am always trying to consume more fruits and vegetables. All year I do yoga at home on average 3 times a week and try and take in one class a week. In the winter, I downhill ski, snowboard, cross country ski, snowshoe in the winter with my dog and am doing at least one of these things five days a week. In the summer, I sea kayak, hike (with dog), and rock climb at least twice a week, and try and run once a week. I walk back and forth to school, and sometime bike instead. I never use elevators either, or automatic doors. I also don't smoke, and am not a huge drinker. My point being, not all Newfoundlanders fit into this stereotype. ps. if you want any advice on great hikes or paddles in the province, I'm your girl!

  • John Hickey
    May 21, 2013 - 06:31

    I took the time to read all the comments here and only Brian James came remotely close to addressing the REAL problem. It's the very poor choices that people still make that they inherited from their parents and grandparents. To prepare foods that are saturated with sugars and excessive salt or fried in pork fat is very bad. Thick gravies and sauces are very bad. And lifestyle choices are bad too.. People need to dispense with the traditional ways of food preparation and consumption as taught to us by our ancestors and start adopting a more modernized way... If we're going to choose to NOT be active, then we MUST choose a diet that compliments such a sedentary lifestyle.. As for drinking and smoking, I'm amazed that anyone can actually still afford to with the high prices of such 'materials'...Nevertheless, quitting would certainly be something to seriously consider....

    • david
      May 21, 2013 - 19:25

      People do not inherit choices. That is finger-pointing BS.

  • trouting
    May 20, 2013 - 05:41

    Amazing how focused people are, with cost of food. Did anyone notice, SMOKING AND DRINKING....up there too, yet no one complained?

  • Betty
    May 19, 2013 - 23:33

    I would like to see how this survery was conducted to get the results they did....In saying that I do concur that many NLers are not healthy....Our government and esp our health care systems need to be better trained and focused on educating the general public (starting with young children) on healthy eating, disease prevention (ie. diabetes, heart disease, etc.) and more exercise of course...We have a beautiful province and much to explore...we don't need gym passes to exercise....just put away the remote, cell phones, video games, etc. and get out and walk, run, and do whatever to make the body more healthy...education is the key here to making this work...and our government needs to put more funds to make this happen....thus reducing the need for dependence on the health care system to keep us alive...and parents and grandparents need to stop giving into their kids and grandkids and buying junk food...and for goodness sake watch their portions of food intake.... The drinking to excess is a problem as is the drug problem....they go hand in hand...again more education and awareness for everyone...

  • Brian James
    May 19, 2013 - 12:04

    The price of food is no excuse. I eat healthy and it doesn't cost very much. Beans and rice is the cheapest food in the world, and very healthy. Price is not the issue. Most Newfoundlanders (I am one) are hooked on sugar and grease and are very lazy. Absolutely nobody takes the stairs when there's an elevator. Even for one floor. How many would even consider walking to the corner store? Walking is cheap. Even cheaper than a crappy old Sunfire.

    • david
      May 20, 2013 - 10:48

      Stairs are so last century, Brian....How about all those people who will "automatically" push on automated handicap door openers wherever there is one......Now THAT'S lazy! I don't know how these people get their shoes on in the morning.

  • Jake
    May 19, 2013 - 09:16

    Joan Burke - does this report move you at all to take a more responsible perspective on the West Coast Training Centre? Or could you care less?

  • Steve
    May 18, 2013 - 12:36

    Good nutrition can be a little more difficult, I get that its not just a matter of taste. The choices aren't always hard but also not always as clear as grocery store options. 9 out of 10 times you feel the need to raise a glass of pop, drink water. Cut back on TV and internet costs and spend more time outside. Try to eat more whole food, and select local when you can. Consider not having to spend a disproportional amount of your tax revenues or use the province's new found resource wealth on healthcare that will be necessary to maintain poor choices.

  • Shawn
    May 18, 2013 - 08:37

    Eating healthy is not an option in Newfoundland these days, it's a privilege. As anyone else that has lived or visited in other provinces in the past few years knows, the price of food, in particular healthy real food, is way over the top here on the Island. In particular, foods produced on the island and regulated such as milk eggs,and fresh poultry. Some of these foods have even been given a monopoly by the Government as to prevent competition in the marketplace. Protecting business from the market should never be the business of Government. The Government, in theory, should be there to protect us instead. Until this changes, we all will continue to be raped by a protected market and in turn, health will continue to be a privilege....and it will never change until, we change our style of governing and choosing government.

  • Paul
    May 18, 2013 - 08:35

    The government is closing recreational facilities and reducing gym and music time in schools... in my opinion, they should have an F!! I wouldn't have considered us a C in smoking either. Our town is full of smokers, and I see little kids going down the streets puffing on one (where did they get it because they certainly aren't old enough).

  • sheila wiseman
    May 18, 2013 - 08:34

    well maybe if every province was treated the same people could afford to eat better and the medical system wasn't through the roof people could be looked after better why should one province be better than another it's all Canada get a grip Goverment they take the blame for nothing but sure do voice opinions on things that is their fault considering Newfoundland and Edmonton now have the worse Premier's ever but good at driving those two Province's in the hole just saying.

  • Dirty Deeds
    May 18, 2013 - 07:02

    It is hard to live a healthy lifestyle when 2 litres of Cola is priced at $2.86 and at the same time 2 litres of milk costs $4.17.The cola is full of sugar and extremely bad for your diet.Newfoundlanders have a higher instance of diabetes due to their lifestyle.People living on a fixed income cannot afford to buy healthy food.

  • Rob
    May 18, 2013 - 03:39

    What you expect??? prices of produce,fruits,milk,meats are rediculous!!!lucky to afford healthy esp on low income families with over expenses in this province.As for restaurants 80% or more is deep fried garbage and pepsi products.Alcohol rates high,cause depressions of the island cause low incomes/family crisis's and way people hide it or so stressed they smoke.,other provinces grow more healthy choices cause there soils can produce,so its a lil lower expensive,where as our dirt we can grow hardened vegetables,so shipping costs all gotta be factored in cause ferry surcharges and outrageous fuel costs.

  • Danny
    May 18, 2013 - 00:45

    I am blown away how we have such amazing hiking trails and a vast and beautiful Province to be active yr round,yet I have never in all my travels seen such a number of obese ppl.Growing up we never hung out playing video games and watching the screen.I stop and watch a couple teens taking shots at a hockey net in a cul da sac.A rare sight these days.Sad to see and hear due to eating habits and being a couch potato kids will die before many of the parents.

  • david
    May 17, 2013 - 21:01

    D? That's generous. Quite seriously.

  • roy
    May 17, 2013 - 18:21

    How can it be that in Ont you can buy 4lts of milk for less than $4.00 when in NL it costs more than $4.00 for 2lts. and pop cost less than $1.00 for two lts . Fruit a. .nd vegetables are to expensive for the average or poor to buy so they have no choice but fill them up on junk food.or have them go hungry.How about we open the gates and bring in milk from outside the province.

    • Jack
      May 20, 2013 - 16:43

      Roy, Newfoundlanders and Labradorians should bear some responsibility for milk being Canada's most expensive, and here's a reason why. While dairy companies in other provinces sell milk in 4 litre bags or jugs, Newfoundlanders and Labradorians only have access to 2 litre cartons due to their inability to embrace the large jugs or bagged milk, and we are paying the price for it. In fact, in Nova Scotia, Baxter, Scotsburn, and Farmer's Dairy, Central Dairies' parent company, sell their 4 litre jugs of milk to their residents, and the price is usually less than $6.00. The irony is that the Nova Scotian (Central Dairies and Scotburn) duo don't sell the same volumes to us. For those living along the Labrador/Quebec border, when Labrador residents shop at Blanc Sablon or Fermont, they have access to 4 litre bagged milk from Quebon, which is still cheaper per litre than purchasing a Scotsburn or Central Dairies 2 litre carton counterparts. Maybe if the Newfoundland and Labrador Government didn't have restrictive dairy regulations, allow the Nova Scotian duo to import milk to the province, and we start embracing jugged and bagged milk, our dairy prices will be lower. Since a Quebec based dairy giant, Agropur, will take over Farmer's Dairy and Central Dairies soon, maybe we'll see the 4 litre jugs of milk in Newfoundland and Labrador one day.

  • Elmo Hewlett
    May 17, 2013 - 16:55

    a D i think by next year it will be a F if the government cuts out gym and health living programing in our schools.For the drinking if the school boards keeps up the drinking again D to a F. So with the way the government is going we will be a big F!!!

  • David Lilly
    May 17, 2013 - 16:02

    There was a time when there was no junk food. My grandparents never seen a can of coke. Fish and wild meat was the diet. Everyone worked from day light to dark just to to survive. The problem now in Newfoundland is people are lazy. How many people take advantage of the food fishery? Fish for the winter, right. What about a garden to grow some of your own veggies. What about berries for the winter? How about wild rabbits for soup. Newfoundlander must help themselves and not depend on the government for handouts as my grandparents did.

  • A mom
    May 17, 2013 - 14:53

    I am a mom of a young teenager I am trying my hardest to feed him the right choices it is time for our government to regulate prices of food,milk,fruit I only have one son and most times I do ok but when you can buy a 2 litre pepsi cheaper then a 2 litre of milk there is something wrong.Recently my son had blood work done he has cholesterol issues even though he is not over weight,I have private insurance but will not pay for an exercise program but will pay for medication.Even though I now have to to take on extra expenses with putting him in a gym or place him on medication he is 13 years old.There is something wrong here.

    • Tim Jamison
      May 19, 2013 - 14:51

      The problem is over-regulation (i.e. supply management regimes) and unions and overtaxation. It's why Americans get cheese at 40% of the price we pay for it. You Son's suffering is sending a farmer's Son to college. Thanks, Liberal Party of Canada. If the free market actually controlled your food prices, you would be eating cheaply. It's kind of like how a 24 of beer costs 18 bucks in Florida and 46 here

  • mainlander
    May 17, 2013 - 14:52

    How about making fresh, non-processed, non-GMO food affordable and available? Where can you buy actual butter (ie the only ingredient is CREAM) that is reasonably priced instead of the chemical cocktail sold as margarine? How about grass fed beef? People have a harder time being healthy if junk is cheaper and more readily available than real food.

  • Brian Walsh
    May 17, 2013 - 12:37

    Not sure if I'd take this survey seriously until it's revealed exactly how it's conducted. The result from top to bottom fits the map from west to east pretty much exactly. That could suggest a bias in the analysis

  • Mark
    May 17, 2013 - 12:35

    Anyone could have told us that Newfoundlanders have terrible health habits and lifestyles. What is alarming is to see how poorly we rank compared to other provinces. We came in at the bottom of every category, except for smoking (take that, PEI and Saskatchewan!) Instead of the Dunderdale gov't throwing more money into the black hole that is reactive healthcare, there should be more focus on preventative care. If people here just ate a little better, got a little more exercise, cut out the smokes and the heavy drinking, you would see sickness plummet!