Like most of the world, Switzerland has an obesity problem. From 1992 to 2017, obesity in Switzerland rose from 5% to 11% of the population. In addition, a further 31% of the population was considered overweight, bringing the total with a weight problem to 42% of the population. The Covid-19 pandemic has added to the health challenge, according to a study by the University of St Gallen.
The recent study, presented by SRF, found average weight gain across all age groups of 3.3 kg between 2019 and 2021. Adding the most kilos were those aged 45 to 64 who added an average of 6.7 kg over the two year period.
According to University of St Gallen professor Thomas Rudolf this is a significant acceleration in weight gain. Over the 5 years between 2014 and 2019, average weight gain was 0.1 kg.
Big drivers of the recent expansion of Swiss waistlines appear to be more widespread working from home, with its easier access to refrigerators and food cupboards, combined with less exercise. Increased consumption of alcohol is also thought to have played a role.
Reduced structure around eating is probably also a contributing factor, according to nutritionist Jürg Hösli. Eating late at night is associated with increased hunger and may have driven up food consumption he thinks.
A quarter of those surveyed reported not having enough money to eat healthily. Ironically, some of the healthiest meals beat meat on price. For example, kidney beans and pulses, which contain plenty of protein and healthy fibre, something absent from meat, cost far less. In Switzerland, which has the world’s most expensive Big Mac burgers (CHF 6.50) and pricy meat, regularly opting for vegetables instead of meat could not only improve waistlines but reduce food budgets – two beef burgers bought at a Swiss supermarket cost CHF 5.20 compared to CHF 120 for a tin of Borlotti beans and CHF 115 for a tin of chickpeas.
SRF article (in German)
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