Abbotsford/Chilliwack/Vancouver – Even though every community in Vancouver Coastal Health (VCH) and Fraser Health (FH) beat the Canadian average for physical activity guidelines, as many as one in four residents are considered obese, a major risk factor for chronic disease onset. That’s one of the surprising findings from the My Health My Community survey results being released today.
The My Health My Community survey data has been compiled into community profiles, which give a snapshot of each community’s health and wellbeing. The profiles are based on survey results from adults aged 18 and up in 40 communities across FH and VCH, conducted during 2013 and 2014.
The health and wellness data gathered on residents at the community level will help residents, community agencies and local governments understand factors influencing health in their communities.
The main findings include:
- There is significant variation in self-reported physical and mental health across communities, with much of that variation likely due to differences in the underlying determinants of health
- Access to a family doctor varies across communities; however in areas where residents report having more chronic disease (e.g. diabetes) they also tend to have better access to family doctors.
- Opportunities exist to improve lifestyle behaviors including quitting smoking, eating healthy, exercising more, and drinking responsibly.
- Compact urban centres better support active transportation modes like walking and biking, as well as have access to more community services.
- Residents in rural communities tend to have a stronger sense of community belonging, and are a little better prepared for emergencies.
For each of the communities, the survey reports results in five areas; health status, lifestyle behaviors that impact health, primary care access, the built environment and community resiliency. Social determinants of health—immigration, education, income and ethnicity are also included.
Dr. Jat Sandhu, Principal Investigator for My Health My Community and Regional Director of Public Health Surveillance, VCH:
”With 33,000 responses, this is the largest community health survey ever conducted in B.C. We want this rich and granular data to spark community level dialogue about creating health promoting environments and reducing health inequities.”
Dr. Victoria Lee, Chief Medical Health Officer, Fraser Health:
“The survey is like a blood-test for our communities. The results provide us with valuable information that our Medical Health Officers can use to ‘diagnose’ the health of our region. We can then focus our work with municipalities and local stakeholders to create a roadmap of good health for the future.”
Mayor Jack Froese, Township of Langley:
“As Co-Chair of Langley’s Healthier Community Partnership, this data will be invaluable for our community as we continue to improve our individual health along with the goal of building healthier communities. The data collected, specific to Langley, such as levels of physical activity, health status, and our transportation networks will aid us in designing our future programs and services.”
About My Health My Community:
My Health My Community, a partnership between Vancouver Coastal Health, Fraser Health and the eHealth Strategy Office at the University of British Columbia, reflects the goals of the Province’s Healthy Families BC strategy, which focuses on improving the health and wellness of British Columbians through programs that help address healthy eating, healthy lifestyles and fostering healthy communities.
All survey results can be viewed on the My Health My Community website at www.myhealthmycommunity.org.