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Health Obesity figures stabilise among Swiss kids

Children at a summer camp in Zweisimmen, canton Bern in July 2011

Children and teenagers work out in a gym, pictured in Zuercher Adipositas Camp for Kids.

(© Keystone / Christian Beutler)

One in six schoolchildren (17.3%) was overweight or obese in Switzerland last year, a survey has revealed. The figures are stable compared to previous data. 

The 2017/2018 statistic for schoolchildren of all ages was slightly above the average for the 2014-2017 period (17%) but down from 19.6% for 2005-2008external link

The number of overweight children varied according to age and level of education. Almost one in five secondary school children was overweight or obese in the 2017/2018 school year (24.8%), compared to 12.4% of children in kindergarten and primary schools (aged 4-8). 

The statistics are based on body mass index (BMI) calculations collected for 14,000 children from Basel, Bern and Zurich at nursery, primary and secondary school levels. 

Promotion Health Switzerland, which published the figures on Thursdayexternal link, expressed its general satisfaction at the trends.   

It estimated that 19.3% of school children aged 8-12 were overweight or obese - the lowest rate for this age group since the 2005/2006 school year. Over the past decade the long-term trend for young kindergarten and primary schoolchildren has fallen, while that of older teenagers has stabilised, it added.

+ Swiss children more likely to walk to school

The agency said cantons’ obesity prevention programmes, which have been in place over the past ten years, are showing good results. Campaigns promoting healthier diets and physical activity are reaching more children and eating behaviours have improved, it said. 

The agency said differences in education, income, nationality and environment also played important roles in children’s health. It advocates the creation of more children’s play areas and parks and improvements to cycle paths and footpaths. 

BMI is calculated by dividing a person’s weight in kilograms by their height in metres squared and is an indication of whether a person is a healthy weight. For adults a BMI of between 18 kg/m2 and 25 kg/m2 is considered normal, while a BMI of over 25 kg/m2 is considered overweight. Obese is 30 kg/m2 or above. Children use the same calculation but are graded using a sliding scale according to age.

Keystone SDA/sb

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