News Bite: Undernourishment Worse Than Obesity?


You’re probably used to hearing about the obesity epidemic and the high price (for your wallet and your health) of being overweight. But a recent report from Statistics Canada has pointed out a problem that’s bigger than the obesity problem: undernourishment, or the lack of proper nutrition for good health. About one in three seniors are undernourished in Canada, compared to the one in four Canadians who are obese. The data, based on the report, found that elderly people particularly are at a higher risk for being undernourished because of the following reasons:


  • Financial constraints: Healthy food costs more than fast food, and seniors, especially retired ones, live on tight budgets
  • Difficulty grocery shopping: This includes not having access to a vehicle, being unable to drive, or simply not knowing which foods you should and should not be buying
  • Difficulty cooking: Cooking gets harder as you age or if you live alone
  • Poor oral health: Often seen in nursing homes, tooth decay can cause eating problems
  • Mental health: According to the Public Health Agency of Canada, depression and loneliness also cause seniors to care less about making healthy choices

Although research on seniors and undernourishment in America is not yet available, we can expect the numbers to be similar, or worse, given the U.S. population is about 10-times bigger than Canada. Undernourishment is often overlooked in a society of constant dieting, weight-loss trends, and pressure to watch your weight—but it’s a serious problem, especially as you age.

Early detection, an awareness of your nutrition habits, and getting help from trained professionals can help you get back on the track to healthy nutrition, according to the Statistics Canada.

“Obesity in Canada—Snapshot,” Public Health Agency of Canada web site, July 31, 2012;, last accessed March 20, 2013.
“Undernourishment a risk for 1 in 3 older Canadians,” CBC News web site, March 20, 2013;, last accessed March 20, 2013.
“The Chief Public Health Officer’s Report on the State of Public Health in Canada 2010,” Public Health Agency of Canada web site, June 20, 2012;, last accessed March 20, 2013.