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A new report comparing kids in Canada to those in the U.S. has some not-so-surprising results: the childhood obesity rate has climbed much more there than here.

Thanks to kids chugging way more soda and consuming not-so-healthy snacks, the obesity rate has spiked. In the late ’70s, the obesity rate of children between ages 3 and 19 was about 5 per cent for both countries. Pretty damn good, right? But fast-forward 30+ years to 2013, and the rate rose substantially in the U.S. to 17.5 per cent while Canada is up to 13 per cent.

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While those numbers have levelled off, prevention is key when looking to the future. Sure, Canadian kids might not be as overweight as kids in the U.S. now, but that doesn’t give us license to brag. Something needs be done in both countries to not only stop the obesity rate from increasing, but hopefully one day, actually lower it.

According to the report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the biggest difference between the countries was among girls between 7 and 12, of whom 19 per cent were obese in the U.S. compared to 9 per cent in Canada.

There wasn’t much of a difference among kids aged 3 to 6 and teenagers 13 to 19 in Canada and the U.S., but the study authors — led by epidemiologist Cynthia L. Ogden — pointed out that a lack of sufficient data may account for that part of the result.

The next step is examining what might be causing Americans to do so much worse than us. “Now I am hoping we will have a chance to make comparisons between the dietary and physical factors of the two countries,” Ogden told CNN.

It seems that the increase of sugar in diets is mostly to blame. Combine that with less activity, the availability of healthy foods (or lack thereof) and general changes in eating trends over the past three decades, and that might be the key to this growing epidemic. Now the question is, how do we change?

For starters, take that TV out of your child’s room. Apparently it can lead to more sedentary kids. That, in addition to where you live — folks who live in the suburbs (ahem, America) tend to do a lot more driving than walking — are major factors in child obesity. So what are you waiting for? Get your child on a bike or a regular walking routine. Remember: any movement is good movement. Oh, and eating healthy food; but really, that should be the most basic step of all.

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