Fifty percent of Swedes are either overweight or obese, up from 47 percent a decade ago, official figures by the Public Health Agency of Sweden (Folkhälsoinstitutet) suggest.
Its national health survey, published on Monday, revealed that 43 percent of women and 57 percent of men have a BMI (body mass index, a ratio of weight to height) of more than 25. Of those, 14 percent, or one in seven, are classified as obese with a BMI of over 30 – up from 11 percent in 2004.
Despite Sweden's global reputation for promoting a healthy lifestyle, the figures follow a separate report by the World Health Organization this spring warning that the nation's overweight population is set to almost double to one in four obese over the next 15 years (25 percent of men and 22 percent of women).
“First of all people's lifestyles are changing – they are becoming sedentary and their eating habits are also changing,” Peter Bergsten, a professor of medicine and cellular biology at Uppsala University, told The Local at the time.
However, there is more to life that counting the kilos. A total of 70 percent of the 20,000 respondents to Monday's survey told pollsters they believe they are in good shape, overall, although men reported better health than women.
“Both men and women reported significantly better health than in 2004, when these surveys began. Women have improved their health somewhat more than men, but they are still behind. It is hard to say what the reason is, but it shows that women's health can be improved even further,” Malin Kark, project leader at epidemiologist at the Public Health Agency, told the TT newswire.
The survey also found that Swedes have cut down on their smoking and alcohol consumption in the past decade.