Last year, the percentage of children aged 8 to 12 in Switzerland that were obese or overweight fell to 19.3% during the 2017/2018 school year, the lowest it has been in over ten years, according to Promotion Santé Suisse.
The number of overweight or obese school children in Switzerland rises with age. During the 2017/2018 school year, 12.4% of children aged 5 to 8 were obese or overweight. By the second cycle (8 to 12) the same percentage was 19.3%, and by the third cycle (12 to 15) it was 24.8%. The overall rate was 17.3%.
The data show that child obesity is associated with the level of education of the parents. Well-educated parents are less likely to have overweight children. In addition, the children of poorly-educated parents are more likely to have children of a healthy weight if they live in a community where there are more well-educated parents, something which suggests that the children of well-educated parents might act as role models for the other children. Better access to healthy food and parks in these communities might play a role too, said the report.
The report showed wide geographic differences. The highest rate in Basel was in Kleinbasel (22.2%), while the lowest rate was in the city’s rural edges (12.2%). In Zurich the highest rate was in Schwamendingen (24.5%) and the lowest in Zürichberg (9.4%). In Bern, the western zone (20%) had the most overweight children, while the centre (9.9%) had the least.
Promotion Santé Suisse thinks the recent numbers show that efforts focused on improving diet and promoting exercise are paying off. However, looking at the figures there is a long way to go.
The report is based on the BMI data of 13,916 children living in Basel, Bern and Zurich.