ARCHIVED - Definitions of Variables Reported

The estimates reported in the tables and maps on this website are based on the number of people who answered the questions, not on the total number of respondents. As a result, the denominators may change for the different health indicators reported. More information on this is available from Statistics Canada.

Indicators

Nutrition indicators are units of information that reflect either directly or indirectly the state of nutrition in the population. The nutritional health of the population can be estimated by measuring indicators within the scope of public health. This includes health status, health outcomes, the determinants of health and the health system. The indicators reported here are designed to provide comparable information at the Canada and provincial level. Consultations continue with provincial and territorial nutrition representatives to ensure relevant data and consistent definitions. For information specific to Statistics Canada's Health Indicators.

Fruit and Vegetable Consumption - Servings

This variable classifies the respondent based on the total number of servings of fruit and vegetables he/she consumed on a given day. Please note that these data came from the 24-hour food recall, and not the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) frequency of fruit and vegetable consumption module on the questionnaire. This variable applies to respondents aged 6 years or older.

The CCHS 2.2 is composed of the general health component (which includes the module on frequency of fruit and vegetable consumption) and the 24-hour dietary recall. The module for the questionnaire was taken from the BRFSS in the United States. Other cycles (1.1, 2.1, 2.2, 3.1) of the CCHS also collected information using the BRFSS frequency of fruit and vegetable consumption module. Even though the questions were unchanged for the CCHS 2.2, comparisons of these data with previous and subsequent cycles of the CCHS should be done with caution because of differences in the collection methodology.

During data collection for CCHS 2.2, the 24-hour recall was administered first. This could potentially have affected the responses to the fruit and vegetable module later in the interview where respondents would have been more aware of what they had eaten. Therefore, even though the data collected in cycle 2.2 using the frequency of fruit and vegetable consumption module are useful as correlates of other data in a cross-sectional analysis, it is important to be aware of these limitations in regard to comparisons with other cycles of the CCHS.

Furthermore, foods and beverages reported by respondents were assigned to one of the four food groups (Grain Products, Vegetables and Fruit, Milk Products, Meat and Alternatives) and the Other foods category of Canada's Food Guide to Healthy Eating (1992) since this version was the food guide in effect at the time of the collection, coding and release of the data. The definition of and criteria for what was considered a vegetable and a fruit were described in the document Relating Canada's Food Guide to Healthy Eating to Canadian Nutrient File Foods - Thresholds for Assigning Foods to Specific Groups and Subgroups. The CNF version used for the CCHS 2.2 was the CNF supplemented 2001b (9th edition).

Food Security

"Food security exists when all people, at all times, have physical and economic access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food to meet their dietary needs and food preferences for an active and healthy life." (Food and Agriculture Organization. 1996. Rome Declaration on World Food Security and World Food Summit Plan of Action.)

Please note that in the CCHS 2.2 this is a household measure, and thus the percentage of households in each food security status category is provided.

Food Secure - Food secure households reported either no or one sign of problems accessing food due to a lack of money during the previous year.

Food Insecure - Food insecure households reported more than one sign of problems accessing food due to a lack of money during the previous year. These signs may have included one or more household members cutting the size of meals, skipping meals or not eating for a whole day.

Moderately Food Insecure - These households reported multiple indications of food access problems due to a lack of money, but typically reported few, if any, signs of reduced food intake.

Severely Food Insecure - These households reported multiple indications of reduced food intake and disrupted eating patterns due to a lack of money for food.

Measured Body Mass Index - Children (2-17 years)

This variable classifies the measured body mass index (BMI) of children aged 2 to 17 as "obese" or "overweight" according to the age-and-sex specific BMI cut-off points based on pooled international data from Brazil, Great Britain, Hong Kong, the Netherlands, Singapore and the United States. (For more information please see Cole, T.J., Bellizi, M.C., Flegal, K.M., & Dietz, W.H. (2000). Establishing a standard definition for child overweight and obesity worldwide - International survey. British Medical Journal, 320 (7244), 1240-1245.) Due to different rates of growth for individuals under 18 years of age, the standard BMI measurement used for adults is not considered a suitable indicator for children.

Please note that these estimates are based on the measured, not self-reported, height and weight of the respondent. Respondents who did not fall within the categories of "obese" or "overweight" have been classified as "neither overweight nor obese". This variable does not include respondents 18 years old or older, as well as pregnant females and those that did not answer the question about pregnancy.

Measured Body Mass Index - Adults (18 years and older)

Body mass index (BMI) is based on height and weight, and calculated for persons 18 years of age or over. BMI is calculated as weight (in kilograms) divided by height (in meters) squared.

Research studies on large groups of people have shown that BMI can be classified into ranges associated with health risk. There are four categories of BMI ranges in the Canadian weight classification system:

  • Underweight (BMI less than 18.5) (Due to extreme sampling variability, the values for "underweight BMI" were too unstable and thus not reported here.)
  • Normal weight (BMI of 18.5 to 24.9)
  • Overweight (BMI of 25.0 to 29.9)
  • Obese (BMI greater than or equal to 30.0)

Please note that these estimates are based on the measured, not self-reported, height and weight of the respondents. This variable includes respondents 18 years of age or older. Pregnant females, and those who did not answer the question about pregnancy, were not included. Due to extreme sampling variability, the values for "underweight BMI" were too unstable and thus not reported here.

Nutrient Intakes from Food

This variable reports on Canadians' (age 19 and over) usual intake of several nutrients. The daily intake of an individual is the quantity of nutrients or food eaten in one given day, whereas an individual’s usual intake is the long–term average of the daily intake. Similarly, for a population, daily intake data reflect intakes of a large number of people on a given day. To obtain an estimate of a population’s usual intake distribution from daily intake data, one typically fits a measurement error model. The Software for Intake Distribution Estimation (SIDE) is a program that is able to do this.

Nutrient intakes from food were estimated using data from respondents’ 24-hour food recalls. The nutrient intakes were derived from food consumption; data on nutrient intakes from vitamin and mineral supplements were not included. Nutrient intakes were assessed using nutrient reference standards known as Dietary Reference Intakes (DRIs).

For some nutrients, the DRI values differ across the combined age groups of 19+ years for males and/or females and/or both sexes combined. For these cases, the estimated percentage less than or greater than the DRI value was computed as an average of the percentages for the age-sex subgroups comprising the combined group weighted proportionally by population size.

The variance of the estimate, used to calculate the confidence interval, was computed as the average of the variances for the age-sex subgroups comprising the combined group weighted proportionally by the square of the population size. This computation was necessary for the percentage above the Adequate Intake (AI) for total dietary fibre and the percentage above the AI for calcium for the combined age groups of 19+ for Males and Females. It was also necessary for all nutrients for the combined age groups of 19+ for both sexes combined.

Physical and Sedentary Activity

Physical Activity Index

The Physical Activity Index categorizes respondents (aged 12 years or older), as being "active", "moderate", or "inactive" based on their total daily Energy Expenditure values. The types of activity the interviewers asked about include:

  • Baseball / softball
  • Basketball
  • Bicycling
  • Bowling
  • Dance (popular or social)
  • Exercise class / aerobics
  • Fishing
  • Gardening or yard work
  • Golfing
  • Home exercises
  • Ice hockey
  • Ice skating
  • In-line skating or rollerblading
  • Jogging or running
  • No physical activity
  • Skiing or snowboarding
  • Soccer
  • Swimming
  • Tennis
  • Volleyball
  • Walking for exercise
  • Weight training
  • Other

Daily Physical Activity Lasting 15 Minutes

This variable indicates whether respondents 12 years of age or older participated daily in physical activity lasting over 15 minutes. Respondents were asked how often they engaged in the following activities in the previous three months. These times were then reduced to a one-month average.

  • Baseball / softball
  • Basketball
  • Bicycling
  • Bowling
  • Dance (popular or social)
  • Exercise class / aerobics
  • Fishing
  • Gardening or yard work
  • Golfing
  • Home exercises
  • Ice hockey
  • Ice skating
  • In-line skating or rollerblading
  • Jogging or running
  • No physical activity
  • Skiing or snowboarding
  • Soccer
  • Swimming
  • Tennis
  • Volleyball
  • Walking for exercise
  • Weight training
  • Other

Hours per week spent in physical activity

This variable estimates the average of the total number of hours per week children between the ages of 6 and 11 take part in physical activities at school or outside of school. Physical activity was defined as activity "that makes you out of breath or warmer than usual". Examples of activities included running, brisk walking, rollerblading, biking, dancing, skateboarding, swimming, soccer, basketball, football and surfing. Children were asked about participation during:

  • School free time
  • School class time
  • Organized activities outside school
  • Unorganized activities outside school

This question is part of a module in the Health Behaviours in School-Aged Children (HBSC) survey.

Data on physical activities were also collected during previous cycles of the CCHS. In the case of CCHS 2.2, interviewers were instructed to conduct the first interview in person as opposed to a telephone interview. It is known that the physical activities module is greatly affected by the mode of collection (St-Pierre, M. & Béland, Y. 2004. "Mode Effects in the Canadian Community Health Survey: a Comparison of CAPI and CATI. Proceedings of the American Statistical Association Annual Meeting, Survey Research Methods Section. Toronto, Canada: American Statistical Association.) Therefore, comparisons of these data with previous and subsequent cycles of the CCHS, where the mix of telephone and personal interviews is different, should be done with caution.

This limitation should be considered when making any comparisons between CCHS 2.2 data and other cycles of the CCHS. However, data collected on physical activities by the CCHS 2.2 are useful as correlates of other data in cross-sectional analyses.

Hours per day spent in sedentary activity

This variable estimates the average of the total number of hours per day children between the ages of 6 and 11 participate in sedentary activities, including:

  • Watching TV or videos
  • Playing video games
  • Spending time on a computer (playing games, emailing, chatting and surfing the Internet)

This question is part of a module in the Health Behaviours in School-Aged Children (HBSC) Survey.

Vitamin and mineral supplements consumption in the past month (2004)

This variable estimates the percentage of people who reported consuming at least one vitamin or mineral supplement in pill, capsule, powder, or liquid form within the past month. Supplements include any single vitamin or mineral or any multivitamin that is added to the diet in any quantity, but that is not consumed as food or fortified food. Note that information on herbal preparations (e.g. gingko, ginseng, St. John's Wort, etc.) was not collected.

Statistics Canada's File Formats

Master File

The Master Files include all data collected from every respondent. These data files are maintained by Statistics Canada, and for confidentiality reasons, only Statistics Canada employees or deemed employees can access these files. It is possible for researchers to access the Master Files through Research Data Centres at some Canadian universities.

Share File

These files contain all variables for respondents who agreed to have their information shared with the survey share partners. In this case the share partners are the provincial Ministries of Health and Health Canada. The Share Files contain all of the variables available on the Master Files but for about 95% of the respondents. The files are weighted so that the Master Files and Share Files produce comparable results.

Public Use Microdata Files (PUMF)

The PUMF include all records (100% of respondents) contained on the Master Files but not all of the variables. Variables may be removed, capped or regrouped to protect confidentiality of respondents. The PUMF are available through universities participating in the Data Liberation Initiative, and may also be available from Statistics Canada on request.

Values Reported

Estimate

Surveys such as the CCHS 2.2 are conducted on a small proportion of the population, called a sample, instead of the entire population of Canada. However, the statistics from a sample will not exactly reflect the values of the population from which the sample is taken. These statistics (e.g. average, percentage) obtained for the sample estimate the values for the population, and are thus called estimates.

Confidence Interval

A 95% confidence interval (CI) is associated with each estimate. The CI is the range of values around the estimate which has a 95% probability of containing the true value of the parameter of interest (e.g. arithmetic mean) for the population. If the CIs of two estimates overlap these estimates are likely not (statistically) significantly different from one another.

Coefficient of Variation

The coefficient of variation (CV) represents the ratio of the standard error to the estimate of a specified parameter and is expressed as a percentage. The CV can also be used to assess the degree of variation.

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