Women in Switzerland have achieved an almost perfect weight score in a global Body Mass Index (BMI) survey. On average, Swiss women have a BMI score of 23.7kg/m2 which is well within the parameters of healthy weight.
The long-running weight survey found that, globally, people have been getting heavier since 1975. Some 640 million people are now deemed overweight worldwide as people, on average, have put on 1.5kg in weight per decade in the past 40 years.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), a BMI reading of between 18.5 and 24.9 is the ideal score, 25-30 is considered overweight and over 30 obese. BMI measures the relationship between height and weight, although it has its limitations since it does not differentiate between muscle mass and fat mass.
The latest study, with contributions from the Univeristy of Zurich's Institute of Evolutionary Medicine along with 700 other institutions worldwide, put together data of 19 million people from 200 countries over a 40-year time span. In Switzerland, the data was collected from WHO-sponsored research into heart disease and a long-standing study of Swiss army recruits, aged 19.
While Swiss women achieved good marks from the data, the teenaged male army subjects revealed a more worrisome trend, with their BMI score rising from 21.5 to 23 between 1975 and 2014. This is still in the bounds of a healthy weight, but shows a concerning trend, according to study co-author Frank Rühli from the University of Zurich.
“The good news is that Switzerland has witnessed a stabilisation in BMI in the last few years, unlike other areas of the world, particularly the United States and China,” he told swissinfo.ch. “But people should still not ignore the alarm call that every fourth or fifth person was overweight in our Swiss army survey.”
Worldwide, people have been growing taller and heavier in the past 130 years thanks to a general increase in living standards, Rühli added. But while people appear to have reached a height plateau, their body mass continues to increase.
The study predicts that 18% of men and 25% of women will be overweight or obese by 2025 if the BMI trend continues at the same rate.