Adult obesity rate increasing across Sweden

Across all age groups and levels of education, obesity rates are steadily rising in adults in Sweden, according to study findings presented at the European Obesity Summit in Gothenburg, Sweden.

“Obesity is still increasing in the majority of the adult population in our study area in Sweden, especially among the middle-aged and persons with secondary education,” Anu Molarius, PhD, an epidemiologist at the Competence Centre for Health, Västmanland County Council in Västerås, Sweden, told Endocrine Today. “It will probably lead to an increase in the health consequences of obesity.”

Anu Molarius

Anu Molarius

Molarius and colleagues analyzed data from surveys mailed to random samples of adults aged 25 to 74 years in four Swedish counties in 2000 (n = 29,017; 53% women), 2004 (n = 27,385; 54% women), 2008 (n = 25,910; 54% women) and 2012 (n = 24,152; 54% women). Overall response rates were 67%, 65%, 60% and 53%, respectively. Obesity (BMI 30 kg/m²) was based on self-reported height and weight.

Between 2000 and 2012, age-standardized prevalence of obesity increased from 13% to 17% in women and from 12% to 17% in men; obesity increased in all age groups between 2000 and 2008, and continued to increase among adults aged 45 to 64 years between 2008 and 2012.

According to the researchers, in 2012, the prevalence of obesity was nearly twice as high among adults with middle and lower levels of education vs. adults with a higher level of education.

“The ‘true’ prevalence of adult obesity, corrected for self-reported weight and height, was around 20% in 2012 for both men and women,” the researchers wrote.

Molarius said the researchers plan to carry out a new survey in the same area next year.

“It will be important to know whether obesity is still increasing or if the increase is slowing down,” Molarius said. – by Regina Schaffer

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