St. Thomas – On July 18, Cancer Care Ontario and Public Health Ontario released
a report, The Burden of Chronic Diseases in Ontario: Key Estimates to Support Efforts
in Prevention highlighting chronic diseases in Ontario.
"We have carefully reviewed the Burden of Chronic Disease Report. The findings align
with our own understanding of the experiences of the residents of Elgin and Oxford
Counties as outlined in our 2019 Community Health Status Report. In an era with
a significant amount of attention focused on reducing hallway medicine and the burden
on acute care hospitals, this report endorses public health efforts to prevent illness
in the communities we serve through robust health promotion programming," says Peter
Heywood, Director of Chronic Disease Prevention and Well-Being.
Chronic diseases are often long in duration and generally slow in progression. In
addition, they are the leading cause of death with two-thirds of all deaths in Ontario
caused by cancers, cardiovascular diseases, chronic lower respiratory diseases,
Burden of Chronic Diseases highlights the need to reduce the burden of chronic diseases
by addressing the main risk factors associated with them. Only 13% of adults in
Ontario report having none of the top four risk factors for chronic diseases. The
main risk factors for chronic diseases include tobacco smoking, alcohol consumption,
physical inactivity, and unhealthy eating, all of which are modifiable. Additionally,
certain populations such as those with low socioeconomic status and Indigenous peoples
have disproportionately higher rates of chronic disease, risk factors and death.
Chronic disease risk factors account for a significant economic burden in Ontario.
The total annual direct healthcare costs and indirect costs (e.g., lost productivity
due to disability and premature mortality) is estimated to be $7.0 billion for tobacco
smoking, $4.5 billion for alcohol consumption, $2.6 billion for physical inactivity,
and $5.6 billion for unhealthy eating, including $1.8 billion resulting from a lack
of fruit and vegetable consumption. Addressing these risk factors through primary
prevention strategies is therefore critical to reducing the health and economic
burden of chronic diseases, minimizing hospital overcrowding and ending hallway
medicine in Ontario.
In the Southwestern Public Health (SWPH) region, nine of the ten leading causes
of death are chronic diseases. The top three causes of death include ischaemic heart
disease, lung cancer, and dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. SWPH residents also
showed similar or higher rates of the risk factors for chronic diseases as discussed
in the Report.
"Our teams work to reduce the burden of chronic diseases in many ways including
working with municipalities to secure funding to build off-road trails to improve
walkability, offering smoking cessation programs, and bringing stakeholders together
to implement drug and alcohol strategies to address problematic substance use,"
About Southwestern Public Health:
Southwestern Public Health works with its partners to ensure the health of the whole
community. Formed in 2018 by the merger of Elgin St. Thomas Public Health and Oxford
County Public Health, Southwestern Public Health serves a population 200,000+ across
Oxford County, Elgin County and the City of St. Thomas. Our programs respond to
public health emergencies; promote healthy lifestyles; help prevent injuries, illness,
and disease in the community; and promote positive change and social conditions
that improve health. We deliver mandated programs under the Ontario Public Health
Standards and are regulated by the Ontario Health Promotion and Protection Act.
The health unit maintains its main sites in Woodstock and St. Thomas.
Social media and online content:
Facebook: Southwestern Public Health