With one of the highest life expectancies in the world and a well established national welfare policy, how are they really feeling, the Swedes?
According to the new annual study by Folkhälsoinstitutet (The Swedish National Institute of Public Health), Swedes are feeling well in many respects. But there are also many negative trends that continue to get stronger: men and women becoming heavier and heavier, and many more young women starting to smoke.
The institute’s study shows what state Swedish people’s health is in by looking at smoking, drug, alcohol and gambling habits, as well as their weight and exercise regimens. The study is based on answers from 20,000 Swedes between the ages of 16 to 84. There are no huge changes from the last couple years, although trends such as weight gain and smoking habits seem to have gotten stronger. In two years the average BMI (Body Mass Index) in Swedes has increased from 34 to 36 percent. And it’s men who make up that increase. 43 percent of all Swedish men are overweight, compared to 27 percent of the women. In the group of 16 to 24 year olds, it looks like most Swedes are quite sedate and as a result every fifth young man and woman is now overweight. The group diagnosed with obesity, which means the BMI is over 29.9, has fallen from 14 to 13 percent.
“We have tried hard to create a society where we don’t have to make an effort, we have become low-energy physically, therefore our total weight is increasing,” says Pia Lindeskog, one of those responsible for the report. “We eat energy-dense foods without using up any of that energy, even the salad table now features oil, fat dressings and such, so of course we’re getting rounder.” Eleven percent of the population smoked on a daily basis last year. In 2004 that number was 16 percent. Most ages and both genders are quitting the nicotine habit, except for young women ages 16 to 29, where 13 percent were smoking last year—an increase of 3 percent since 2009. The smoking of marijuana decreased for the second consecutive year for both sexes; slightly more than 2 percent reported that they had used marijuana last year.
Following the trends here: The Swedish National Institute of Public Health