Health report card for Québec
Québec, May 16, 2023. – Every six years since 2008, the Institut de la statistique du Québec has conducted the Québec Population Health Survey on behalf of the Ministère de la Santé et des Services sociaux. The third survey took place in 2020–2021 during the COVID-19 pandemic, and more than 47,000 people aged 15 and over from across the province participated. The results cover a multitude of topics: physical health, mental health, lifestyle habits, environmental health, and occupational health. Here is an overview.
Lifestyle habits and behaviour
Physical activity: The proportion of people who are active is decreasing
The proportion of people who are active for recreation and transportation has decreased from 38% in 2014–2015 to 34% in 2020–2021. The decrease is notable in the 15–24 and 25–44 age groups.
Cigarette smoking is on the decline, but one in five young people are vaping
The proportion of the population smoking cigarettes has been steadily declining: from 24% in 2008, it decreased to 19% in 2014–2015, and then to 15% in 2020–2021. Among youth aged 15 to 24, it is now 10%.
As for e-cigarettes, 6% of the population used them in the past 30 days, and 3.2% used them every day or almost every day. The proportions are higher among 15- to 24-year-olds: 19% have vaped in the past 30 days, 9% daily or almost daily.
Alcohol: Used by nearly 79% of the population
Nearly 79% of Quebecers consumed alcohol in the past year. Alcohol consumption was most prevalent in the 25–44 and 45–64 age groups. It is estimated that nearly 24% of the population consumed alcohol excessively in the past year. Excessive alcohol consumption was most prevalent among men (27%) and in the 25–44 age group (30%).
Drugs: Cannabis is the most widely used
About 19% of the population used a psychoactive substance other than alcohol in the past 12 months: 23% of men and 16% of women. Cannabis was the most commonly used substance. The proportion of cannabis users is also on the rise: from 12% in 2008, it rose to 15% in 2014–2015, and to 18% in 2020–2021.
In the past 12 months, 1.5% of the population used hallucinogens, 1.4% used cocaine, 1.4% used non-prescription drugs, and 1.0% used ecstasy.
During the year, almost 13% of Quebecers used prescribed opioids and 2.3% used non-prescribed opioids. Prescribed opioid use was more prevalent among women (14%) than men (12%).
Energy drinks: More people are using them on a daily basis
About 86% of Quebecers never consume energy drinks, but some drink them on a daily basis. Between 2014–2015 and 2020–2021, the proportion of people who consume energy drinks daily increased from 0.5% to 1.1%, and the proportion of those who consume them 1 to 6 times per week increased from 2.7% to 4.0%. In the 15–24 age group, 10% drink them at least once a week.
10% of the population last visited a dentist 5 years ago or more
About 57% of the population visited a dentist in the last year, but 10% saw a dentist 5 years ago or more. There is a marked difference when income is taken into account: 72% of high-income earners saw a dentist in the past year compared to 40% of low-income earners.
Physical and mental health
Perception of one’s health: Improvement among youth
Approximately 57% of Quebecers rate their health as excellent or very good, a proportion that has remained stable since 2008. Nonetheless, the proportion of 15- to 24-year-olds who have a positive perception of their health is increasing: from 61% in 2008, it went up to 66% in 2014–2015, and to 71% in 2020–2021.
Obesity on the rise
The prevalence of obesity has increased from 16% in 2008 to 23% in 2020–2021. This increase is observed in both women and men. That said, nearly 47% of Quebecers say they are very or somewhat satisfied with their weight (about one third are dissatisfied, and dissatisfaction is more prevalent among women).
Quebecers’ satisfaction with their social life is decreasing
More people say they are dissatisfied with their social life (7% in 2014–2015 vs. 15% in 2020–2021). The increase is observed in both men and women and in all age groups. The pandemic very likely had an effect on this health indicator.
Increase in suicidal ideation in women and youth
Approximately 3.7% of the population had serious suicidal ideation without attempting suicide in the past 12 months, up slightly from 3.1% in 2014–2015. The increase was observed only among women (3.3% in 2014–2015 vs. 4.0% in 2020–2021) and young people aged 15–24 (4.1% in 2014–2015 vs. 8% in 2020–2021).
More than one in ten people have symptoms of generalized anxiety disorder
Approximately 11% of the population has symptoms of generalized anxiety disorder, with a higher proportion of women (15%) than men (8%). Young people aged 15 to 24 are also more likely than people in other age groups to have such symptoms.
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The Institut de la statistique du Québec produces, analyzes and disseminates official, objective and quality statistical information on various aspects of Québec society. It is responsible for conducting all statistical surveys of general interest. The relevance of its work makes it a strategic ally for decision makers and all those wishing to learn more about Québec.
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