Could living in certain geographic areas impact your risk of obesity? That appears to be the case according to UBC nutrition researcher Jennifer Black who found higher obesity rates in Canada’s eastern provinces, rural areas and northern Aboriginal communities than in Western Canada.
“It’s not randomly distributed,” says Asst. Prof. Black, who discovered the east-to-west gradient upon reviewing 24 studies about the distribution of food and obesity in Canada conducted since 1997.
Black’s findings show that women in Vancouver have the lowest obesity rates in the nation. For men, the lowest obesity rates are in Richmond.
Her next step is to look at the larger contextual issues for obesity rates such as family income, the availability of healthy and affordable food and opportunities to be physically active.
A registered dietitian, Black specializes in social determinants of health and dietary choice. “I’m interested in how attitudes and behaviours related to eating, cooking, food selection, and body weight shape nutrition and health.”
Previously a post-doctoral fellow in UBC’s Dept. of Sociology, Black joined the Faculty’s Food, Nutrition and Health program in January.
With LFS Nutrition Prof. Susan Barr, Black is also developing UBC research know-how and infrastructure to tackle data from the Canadian Community Health Survey (CCHS), the first set of comprehensive Canadian nutrition data generated in more than 35 years. Released in 2004, the CCHS surveyed upwards of 35,000 respondents from across the country on their dietary intake, vitamin and mineral supplement use, health risks and behaviours.