Overweight is often called a “silent epidemic.” In Switzerland, the proportion of overweight people (BMI >=25 kg/m2) rose from 30% in 1992 to above 40% in 2012. In the same time period, the proportion of obese people (BMI >=30 kg/m2) rose from 6% to 11% in men and from 5% to 9% in women, especially in the age group 15-25 years. A total of 31% of Switzerland’s population is overweight and 10% is obese. Overweight and obesity become more common with advancing age and are negatively correlated with educational status ad income (Source: BfS).
In someone whose BMI is above 25 kg/m2, early adverse effects for the affected individual’s health will measurable; if it is higher than 30 kg/m2 these effects will be striking. The risk for cardiovascular disorders (including stroke, dementia, and myocardial infarction increases alongside the risk for diabetes, joint problems, and cancers. Combined with other risk factors, pronounced overweight will shorten a person’s life expectancy by several years. Psychological stresses will add to this burden, as a result of stigmatisation and a lower self-esteem compared with people whose weight is normal.
The four pillars of reducing overweight or maintaining a healthy weight are:
- Diet/nutrition (selection of foods, eating behaviour, and calorie balance)
- Exercise (energy expenditure, the way in which the body processes energy sources)
- Behaviours (food as a reward, eating because of frustration, unrestricted eating, within eating and exercise culture)
- (Bariatric) surgery and medication in selected cases
A structured programme, such as “Health coaching KHM” will tackle the first three variables in a systematic and patient-appropriate fashion and will establish the conditions for how to change anything—for example motivation and confidence.
- Self-help forum for those affected: www.adipositas-forum.ch
- Swiss professional association “obesity in childhood and adolescence”: www.akj-ch.ch
- Alliance of specialist professional societies and patients’ organisations, Forum Obesity Schweiz: www.fos-ch.ch
- Swiss Obesity Foundation: www.saps.ch
- Department for the prevention of eating disorders in practice (Inselspital Bern): www.pepinfo.ch with sensitisation/awareness raising brochure