Social Question

Cruiser's avatar

Why are there no fat people in Vancouver?

Asked by Cruiser (34636 points ) July 9th, 2012

I was vacationing in the Pacific NW last week and took a day trip to Vancouver. Not long into our drive there, my son made the comment that there are no fat people there. I started taking visual notes of all the people there and sure enough in 4 hours there I did not see one person I would call obese let alone fat.

I just did some research, and of course obesity is an epidemic in the US…you don’t need research to prove this out as it is quite obvious. Anyway, Canadians are catching up to the US in terms of obesity as in some provinces over 50% of their citizens are obese. But not in Vancouver. As this article stated, that only 12% of their population is considered obese.

I am perplexed by this contrast in stats. Why is this? What do Vancouverites know that we don’t know???

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12 Answers

thorninmud's avatar

Ethnicity may be a factor. Vancouver has a large population of East Asian origin (almost 30%), and even in the US this group has a much lower rate of obesity than other ethnic groups (5%).

bkcunningham's avatar

Hello @Cruiser. It is nice to see your input here. You’ve been missed. I found this article that might help explain the reason Vancouver residents are seem healthier.

http://www.openfile.ca/vancouver/blog/curator-blog/curated-news/2011/why-vancouver-so-healthy-its-all-design

bolwerk's avatar

Large, walkable cities tend to be healthier. But this can be overwhelmed by other factors – in NYC, wealthier neighborhoods are pretty slim, but the other boroughs have high rates of poverty and therefore more obesity. (The impoverished tend to eat more poorly because you get more calories for your money that way.)

Probably what makes Vancouver work is it’s fairly well planned, as @bkcunningham‘s link attests, and its population is socioeconomically fairly well off.

Cruiser's avatar

Thanks @bkcunningham! That article is awesome and makes a lot of sense. One thing that caught my eye was the density of housing high rises. Like nothing I have seen anywhere else and I did wonder where all those people park their cars! But that said I did notice a lot of people walking. Another thing was the absence of fast-food restaurants in this densely populated area. I did not see one drive through there.

Coloma's avatar

Because B.C. has one the highest rates of mountain lion attacks in north america.
Fat people are purr-fect prey for fatty wannabe cougars. Slow and easy to stalk while their faces are buried in a bag of super sized fries and enough meat, pound for pound, to feed a family of 4 for at least several weeks.

I predict displaced apex predators will evolve to incorporating into their home ranges overhangs on fast food restaurants where the human spamalopes roam.
It’s also possible the sub-species of house sparrows, the McDonalds sparrow, will serve as an alert for prey and a symbiotic relationship will develop where, in exchange for alerting the lion of a fat happy meal on the hoof the sparrow will be provided with his primary food source, french fries and bits of sesame seed buns.

JLeslie's avatar

My guesses would be it is a very walkable city, with wonderful green spaces, and weather is moderate so you can be outside most of the year. I would half jokingly say that also people are tall there and can consume a larger portion of food and still be trim, but our upper midwest has a lot of Viking and German stock who are tall and they still manage to become overweight. American cities, large cities like NYC, actually are lower in obesity percentages than the average in the country. Especially if you separate out Manhattan from the other burroughs, or even if you separate out white people from minorities. Although, in other cities white people have high percentages of obesity, so it is not a person’s race per se, just the norms and stats regarding a particular community. Probably part of the reason is that most people walk everywhere and also the availablity of healthy foods.

Having said all that the Vancouver statistic is quite amazing, I wasn’t aware of it. i will be there in a few weeks, I’ll have to remember to watch for it.

Oh, and as far as I know 50% of Americans are overweight, not obese. A lower percentage is obese within the overweight amount. That article throws around the words obesity, fat, and overweight like they are all synonomous and they aren’t. Americans make the same mistake. I think the author probably used the correct words for each stat, but our interpetation as readers might not be paying attention to the literal definitions regarding each stat.

Cruiser's avatar

@bolwerk A couple variables may be at play here and one is the area I was in seemed predominately Asian. My brother made a comment where when Hong Kong switched to Chinese rule there was a big migration of Chinese immigrants to Vancouver and I did notice many people in this area was again Asian. Asian I know do have different diets and couple that with people walking everywhere you have a pretty fit populace.

@Coloma LMAO!

Cruiser's avatar

@JLeslie Frankly I thought the part of the city I saw was depressing. All tall fairly unattractive 40–50 story high-rise apartments. Reminded me of the Chicago projects. Cramped and crowded is an understatement. But I will say the one city park I went to was well planned and oriented towards recreation. Lots of walking paths connecting the different parts of the park. Very limited car parking too which I would assume was possibly intentional.

JLeslie's avatar

@Cruiser Yeah, I remember tons of Asians. My husband and I went to Vancouver for our honeymoon 19 years ago, and his comment to me was, “now I know how a blond feels in Mexico.” I had not even noticed at first, since I grew up in DC mostly, around a lot of Asian people. My grabdmother once said to me, “no wonder men like Asian women, they are thin, polite, beautiful hair.”

There may have been a lot of tall buildings added to the city since I was there. I won’t have much time in Vancouver, just a few hours before a cruise. My memory is sort of vague actually on the city, I just have snapshots of memory.

Cruiser's avatar

@JLeslie My favorite part was the Olympic Village and seeing the torch! If you have time check it out! Definite Kodak moment!

JLeslie's avatar

@Cruiser Oh, thank you so much! I only have a few hours and I was not sure what I would try to do. I am going to recommend that to my husband.

Cruiser's avatar

@JLeslie My 12 yr old did his Tebo pose in front of it! Cute picture!

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