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NEWS RELEASE · 29th July 2010
Ministry of Health Services
The 2008 Vital Statistics Annual Report confirms that British Columbians are living longer and staying healthier than ever before, announced Minister of Health Services Kevin Falcon and Minister of Healthy Living and Sport Ida Chong.

"The average life expectancy of British Columbians exceeds all other provinces and we have one of the longest living populations in the world," said Falcon. "I want B.C. to continue to set the bar high for the rest of the country. If we exercise about 30 minutes a day, control our weight, eat reasonably well and don't smoke, we can reduce our risk factors for most chronic diseases by up to 80 per cent."

Based on calculations of life expectancy at birth, British Columbians are experiencing greater longevity, living to an average age of 81.1 years in 2008 compared to 78 years in 1991.

"Our efforts to encourage British Columbians to adopt healthier eating habits and increase exercise and physical activity in their lives are clearly getting results," said Chong. "B.C. boasts the healthiest population in the country, and this report shows our residents are taking more responsibility for their health and embracing a healthier overall lifestyle."

The latest numbers in the British Columbia Vital Statistics 137th Annual Report also show that, in addition to the continuing decline in the overall rates of death from cancer and heart disease, the province is starting to see what could be an encouraging trend in declining mortality from diabetes. This finding supports the current focus on the potential benefits of primary care, self care and health promotion in tackling these health care challenges.

"This decline in diabetes-caused deaths is certainly a positive indicator and a good reflection of the efforts British Columbians have made to improve their diets and restrict how much sugar they consume," said provincial health officer Dr. Perry Kendall. "As well, the chronic disease management guidelines developed by the Province and the BC Medical Association - which have been adopted by a majority of family doctors to manage their patients with diabetes - have resulted in better health outcomes for British Columbians."

The report also shows an upward trend in the number of women of all ages giving birth by caesarean sections since 1986, particularly women age 35 and over. The average age of a mother giving birth in B.C is 30.6 years. Increasing maternal age is also associated with increases in multiple pregnancies, low birth weight and prematurity.

The data from the annual report is used for official records, but is also utilized for various aspects of health planning, research and education.

The 2008 Vital Statistics Annual Report can be found online at www.vs.gov.bc.ca/stats/annual/2008/index.html.