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British Columbians healthier but diabetes a growing concern

Vital statistics give snapshot of provincial population



By Andrew Mitchell

The provincial government released its 2005 Vital Statistics Annual Report recently, and according to statistics a number of trends are continuing — the population is getting older, people are living longer, birth rates are declining, and women are having babies later in life. However, the report raises concern that chronic diseases, such as diabetes, are on the rise.

“The report tells us that our investment in healthier lifestyles to combat the leading causes of death and illness are paying off through longer lifespans,” said Health Minister George Abbott. “However, the growing incidence of chronic diseases such as diabetes is a concern that our government is addressing through our plans for primary health-care renewal.”

Among other things the report shows that the standardized rate of deaths, proportionate to the population, reached a historic low in 2005, while the mortality rate for diabetes was one and a half times higher than in 1986.

Some highlights of the report:


Birth rates are declining, while the number of live births to mothers 35 years old and above are increasing. Further, older mothers are about 10 per cent more likely to give birth via caesarean, about 1.3 per cent more likely to have low birth weight babies, and 1.4 per cent more likely to have twins.

Caesarian births accounted for 29.9 per cent of all live births in 2005, compared to 21 per cent in 1986.

The most popular names were Ethan for boys and Emma for Girls.


The average life expectancy for a B.C. resident in 2006 was 80.8 years, compared to 80.6 in 2005. Population growth and an aging population resulted in an increased number of deaths in 2005 — 33,033 compared to 29,710 in 2004.

The three leading causes of death in the province in 2005 were cancer, heart and stroke diseases, and lung diseases. Nearly a third of cancer deaths (8,367) were attributable to smoking.

Motor vehicle deaths were down, with 419 in 2005 compared to 552 in 1986, not adjusted for population growth. The majority of deaths continued to be young males.


There were 22,631 marriages in B.C. in 2005, up 558 from 2004, and 812 from 2003. Same sex marriages accounted for 1,012 weddings in 2005.

The average marrying age for men has risen from 29.3 to 35.7 from 1977 to 2005, and from 26.2 to 33.2 for women.