Survey: nearly half of Swiss are overweight

The Swiss may want to swap cheese and chocolate for fruit and vegetables after a report said nearly half the population is overweight.

Survey: nearly half of Swiss are overweight
Only 13 percent eat the recommended five portions of fruit and veg a day. Photo: Rob Owen-Wahl

Neither do most Swiss eat the recommended five portions of fruit and vegetables a day, according to a national survey on eating habits commissioned by the Federal Food Safety Office (BLV).

Of the 2,000 adults surveyed across the whole of Switzerland, 44 percent were found to be overweight, the BLV said in a statement.

Men were twice as likely to be overweight as women.

And only 13 percent of those surveyed ate the recommended five portions of fruit and veg a day, found the BLV.

Around a quarter managed between three and four portions a day, and 87 percent ate one or more portions.

While the figures were similar across the country, the survey did find one regional difference of note.

While only 13-14 percent of people in the German and French-speaking regions ate less than one portion of fruit and veg a day, that figure rose to 22 percent in the Italian-speaking region.

The people surveyed answered questions related to their eating habits and physical activity.

These findings are part of a larger survey conducted by Lausanne University on behalf of the BLV and the Federal Public Health Office.

Earlier this year another report found that a sixth of school students in three major Swiss cities were overweight, although numbers had fallen nearly three percent over the previous decade.

And in March Neuchâtel University announced a new centre to treat obesity, which one doctor told The Local was an “epidemic” in Switzerland.

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What to do if you haven’t yet received your Swiss health insurance card

Switzerland is late in issuing health insurance cards for new policy holders or those who have switched their providers at the end of 2022. What should you do if you need medical help before your new card arrives?

What to do if you haven’t yet received your Swiss health insurance card

When you buy a health insurance policy in Switzerland from any of the dozens of approved providers, you will receive a credit card-sized card to be used as proof of insurance. Aside from your name, date of birth, and AHV / AVS number, the card also includes the name of your insurance company, client number, and the date of validity.

You will have to present this card each time you seek medical treatment that is included under the obligatory KVG / LaMal scheme.

Residents of Switzerland are allowed to change their compulsory health insurance coverage from one provider to another by November 30th, to go into effect from January of the following year.

The sharp increase in the cost of the health insurance in 2023 — 6.6 percent on average, but higher in some cantons — has prompted many people to look for cheaper options and change their carriers.

READ MORE: Millions of Swiss residents switch health insurance amid rising costs

This massive switch has caused a backlog in the production of new insurance cards, which means that many policy holders have not yet received theirs.

The cards for all insurance carriers are issued by a subsidiary of the Santésuisse health insurance association, whose spokesperson, Manuel Ackermann, said that the delay is caused by the “extraordinarily large number” — three times as many as in an average year — of switches.

He did not specify how much longer is needed to issue and send out all the cards.

What should you do if you haven’t yet received your card?

Say you need medical help, or another situation arises where proof of health insurance is needed — for instance, if you are applying for a new job or registering in a new municipality.

In such cases, you can present the insurance certificate letter your carrier has issued when you took up your policy.

While not having an insurance card is a minor inconvenience in Switzerland, where such a certificate can be used in the interim, it could be more of a problem when travelling in the European Union.

Under normal circumstances, if you fall ill in the EU, all you have do is present your Swiss card, which is equivalent to the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC). This way, you can be treated and the bill will go directly to your Swiss insurance company.

However, absence of the card could mean that hospitals in those countries may not recognise the insurance certificate alone, and require Swiss residents to pay for medical care on the spot.

While not an ideal situation, you can submit the bill, along with all the required documents such as details of your treatment, to your insurer in Switzerland.

READ MORE: Reader question: Can my Swiss health insurance refuse to pay my medical bills?