Photo: Colourbox.dk

More obese adults in the Nordic region

Wednesday 25 Jan 17

Contact

Jeppe Matthiessen
Senior adviser
National Food Institute
+45 35 88 74 44

Contact

Sisse Fagt
Senior adviser
National Food Institute
+45 35 88 74 22

More adults in the Nordic region have become obese. This is one of the key findings of the second Nordic monitoring of diet, physical activity and overweight headed by the National Food Institute, Technical University of Denmark. For adults in the Nordic region it has become almost as common to be overweight or obese as being normal weight, and one in three adults are physically inactive.

The National Food Institute in cooperation with researchers from Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden have conducted the second Nordic monitoring of diet, physical activity and overweight for the Nordic Council of Ministers. Data from the Nordic Monitoring System make it possible to see how public health has developed in a number of areas between 2011 and 2014.

More obese adults

Data from 2014 show that almost one in two adults in the Nordic region are overweight or obese. It is more common for men (56%) than women (37%) to be overweight or obese. The prevalence of obesity has increased among adults from 2011 to 2014 (from 11% to 13%). This means there are now an additional 200,000 obese adults in the Nordic region.

"The prevalence of obesity among adults in the Nordic region does not appear to be levelling off. This is an unfortunate development as the health consequences can be costly – both for the individual and for society as a whole."

”The prevalence of obesity among adults in the Nordic region does not appear to be levelling off. This is an unfortunate development as the health consequences can be costly – both for the individual and for society as a whole ,” Senior Adviser Jeppe Matthiessen from the National Food Institute says.

Among 7-12-year-olds in the Nordic region, one in seven are overweight or obese. The prevalence of overweight/obesity has not changed during the survey period.

Polarization in adults’ physical activity pattern

One in three adults in the Nordic region are less physically active than recommended. Overall, the number of so-called physically inactive did not change between 2011 and 2014. However, these data hide a slight increase both in the group of very inactive and in the group of very active.

"An increased polarization in the physical activity pattern seems to have occurred among adults in the Nordic region. It is worrying that the group of very inactive has increased by 300,000 given the adverse effects physical inactivity have on people's health, such as increased risk of obesity and cardiovascular diseases," Jeppe Matthiessen emphasizes.

During the survey period six in ten children in the Nordic region were physically inactive.

More adults with high recreational screen time

Three in ten adults in the Nordic region spend more than four hours daily on recreational screen time. The proportion with high recreational screen time has increased slightly from 2011 to 2014 and is higher in men (33%) than in women (27%).

Social inequality in sedentary behaviour – which was already significant in 2011 – increased, as it is among adults with low educational level that an increase in the proportion with high recreational screen time has been found. 

More than one in seven children in the Nordic region spend in excess of four hours on recreational screen time daily. The proportion with high recreational screen time did not change from 2011 to 2014. Gender differences in screen time are also found among children as 18% of boys spend more than four hours of recreational screen time daily in contrast to 13% of girls.

Read more

The study results are described in more detail in the report on the National Food Institute’s website: The Nordic Monitoring System 2011-2014 (pdf). Some of the results have been presented at Nordic conferences in 2016, but the report presents the overall results for the first time.

It is the second Nordic monitoring to be carried out, which makes it possible to compare diet, physical activity and overweight in the Nordic region and between the five Nordic countries over time. The National Food Institute has been responsible for conducting the Nordic monitoring both times.

Please also read the National Food Institute’s press release from 19 January 2017: More adults in the Nordic region have an unhealthy diet.

FACTS ABOUT THE NORDIC MONITORING SYSTEM

  • The Nordic Monitoring System on diet, physical activity and overweight has been conducted in 2011 and 2014 in Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden. In the two studies data have been collected among 4,949 children aged 7-12 and 17,775 adults aged 18-65 in the Nordic region.
  • The study is based on a simple random sample of adults and children drawn from the national register in each of the five Nordic countries. Data were obtained by telephone interviews. Participants have been asked how often they eat selected foods, how much time they spend on physical activity and recreational screen time, their level of education as well as their height and weight. In 2014 adult participants have also been asked how often they smoke and drink alcohol.
  • The studies show how public health has developed in the Nordic region in a number of areas between 2011 and 2014. The results are being used to evaluate status and development in the Nordic region and in each of the five Nordic countries in relation to the Nordic Plan of Action on better health and quality of life through diet and physical activity from the Nordic Council of Ministers .
  • The Nordic Monitoring System is the only Nordic population study, which collects comprehensive, comparative data on the health behaviour of children as well as adults over time. 
  • It costs approximately 35 euros per person to collect the data and is thereby a cost-effective way of collecting large amounts of data on public health in the Nordic region.
http://www.food.dtu.dk/english/news/nyhed?id=c636e4d8-02f1-4555-8d44-d1ec216f083b
24 NOVEMBER 2017