In 2015-16, over 60% of Hamiltonians over 18 reported being physically active for more than 150 minutes per week, enough to have health benefits and similar to provincial and national averages. Less than half (46%) of Hamilton youth, 12-17, reported being active for the recommended daily 60 minutes, significantly below the 60% provincial and national averages1.
In 2015-16, almost two-thirds of Hamiltonians were overweight or obese (65%), slightly higher than the provincial and national averages of 61%. Youth, age 12-17, at 28% had a slightly higher rate than the provincial and national average of 25%2. From 2003 – 2014, the percentage of the city’s adults and youth who are overweight or obese has trended upwards: 62% in 2003 to 68% in 2014 for adults, and 22.7% to 27.0% in youth3.
Being obese or overweight can significantly affect one’s health and well-being. Excess weight is associated with an increased risk of chronic disease such as diabetes, heart disease and some cancers, and can also affect mental health and overall quality of life.
In general men are much more likely to be overweight or obese. In 2015-16, 68.9% of men were overweight or obese, compared with 49.7% of women. For youth, the trend was the same, with 35.1% of young males overweight or obese compared to 24.1% of young females4.
The number of teen pregnancies in Hamilton has fallen by more than half in the last 15 years. In 2016, the rate of teen pregnancy was 19.7/1,000 female teens, down substantially from 2003, when the rate was 38.7/1,000. While the provincial rate of teen pregnancy has seen a similar rate of decline, Hamilton’s rate remains slightly higher (19.7 per 1,000 vs. 15.8 per 1,000 in 2016)5.
Chronic diseases are a leading cause of poor quality of life, illness, disability, and death. In 2015-2016, Hamiltonians aged 12 and older reported rates of diabetes (7.2%), heart disease (3.7%), and cancer (1.2%) similar to the provincial and national rates. However, Hamiltonians had higher rates of high blood pressure (20.2%) than Ontario (18.2%) and Canada (17.3%) as well as higher rates of mood disorders (e.g. anxiety, depression) at 11.2% compared to provincial and national averages of 8.5%6.
Low birthweight describes babies born weighing less than 2,500 grams (5 lbs 8 oz), which puts them at risk for health and developmental problems. In 2016, Hamilton’s 6.7 % rate of low birthweight babies was similar to Ontario’s (6.5%). However, while the provincial rate remained steady over the last four years, Hamilton’s rate has risen steadily from 5.5% in 20137. As previous Vital Signs reports have noted, this rate varies widely across neighbourhoods in Hamilton.
The life expectancy at birth for Hamiltonians in 2014 was 81.4 years – similar to the provincial and national averages8. Life expectancy has increased slightly over the past decade from 80.8 years in 2005. Similar to national trends, women live longer than men: 83.7 years compared to 79.1 years. Life expectancy varies widely by neighbourhood, The Hamilton Spectator’s 2010 Code Red series showed a variation of 21 years between Hamilton’s richest and poorest neighbourhoods9.
In 2015-2016, 94% of Hamiltonians reported having access to a family doctor, one of the best rates in the province, higher than the provincial average (89.9%) and much higher than the national rate (83.6%). While Hamilton’s rate has decreased slightly over the past five years when the rate was over 95%, access to a family doctor is better than other Ontario cities, including Toronto (86.1%), Kitchener-Waterloo (90.5%), London (87.1%), Windsor (87.8%), Sudbury (83.4%), Brantford (89.9%), and Mississauga (91.6%)10.
In 2015-6, 57.6% of Hamiltonians, aged 12 and over, reported that their general health was very good or excellent, less than the provincial and national averages of just over 61%11. This rate has been falling since 2007-2008 when the rate was over 62%. Some 70% of Hamiltonians self-rated their mental health as very good or excellent, similar to the provincial and national averages, but down slightly from the 75% rate in 2007-0812.
1 Statistics Canada. Table 105-0509 – Canadian health characteristics, two year period estimates, by age group and sex, Canada, provinces, territories and health regions, occasional (number unless otherwise noted), CANSIM (database). Accessed March 2018.
3 Public Health Ontario. Snapshots: Toronto Public Health: Self-reported corrected adult overweight and obesity rate (both sexes combined) & self-reported youth (age 12-17) combined overweight and obesity rate 2003 to 2013-14. Toronto, ON: Ontario Agency for Health Protection and Promotion; 2015 Dec 14 [cited 2015 Dec 30]. Available here.
4 Canadian Community Health Survey, 2015/6. Data provided by Community Foundations of Canada.
5 Inpatient discharges and External Cause table, Therapeutic abortions summary v3, and Population Estimates County Municp 1986-2015, Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care, IntelliHEALTH ONTARIO.
6 Statistics Canada. Table 105-0509 – Canadian health characteristics, two year period estimates, by age group and sex, Canada, provinces, territories and health regions, occasional (number unless otherwise noted), CANSIM (database). Accessed March 2018
7 Public Health Unit Analytic Reporting Tool (Standard Reports), BORN Information System, BORN Ontario.
8 Statistics Canada, Cansim Table 1024308. Vital Statistics, Birth Database, Death Database. Accessed March 2018.
9 Hamilton Spectator, Code Red. https://thespec-codered.com.
10 Canadian Community Health Survey, 2015/6. Data provided by Community Foundations of Canada.
11 Canadian Community Health Survey, 2015/6. Share File, Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care. Prepared by the Applied Research and Evaluation Team, Public Health Department, City of Hamilton, March 2018.
12 Canadian Community Health Survey, 2015/6. Data provided by Community Foundations of Canada.