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Swiss tackle growing child obesity problem

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Swiss tackle growing child obesity problem
Photo: Stephen Shaver/AFP/File
11:16 CEST+02:00
Swiss children are consuming too much fast food and soft drinks and getting too little exercise, says a parenting expert who notes that one in five kids in Switzerland are overweight.

“Motion deficit is a major cause of obesity in children,” Eveline von Arx, a teacher and editorial director of Fritz und Franzi, a parent counselling magazine, told Blick newspaper online.

But parents also have a responsibility as role models and in an educational way when it comes to eating behaviour, von Arx said.

“You determine, for example, whether the family eats a balanced meal together at the table or if each family member helps himself from the fridge,” she said.

Her comments come after the results of a health survey released by the federal statistics office last week showed that 41 percent of the Swiss population are overweight or obese.

The results, from a poll of 21,500 people, showed an 11 percent increase in the number of overweight people in Switzerland in the past 20 years.

The obesity findings are based on body mass index (BMI) measurements calculated from an individual’s weight and height.

Von Arx said the BMI is just a guideline and “not every chubby child is necessarily a problem case”.

If a child is active enough and has no physical and social problems “one should not dramatize” such measurements, she said.

Eating disorders, such as anorexia, typically have a psychological reason, von Arx said.

Some children each to much because they are bored, lonely or grieving over some loss, she said.

Anorexic children may also have psychological problems and could be looking for attention, von Arx said.

Swiss Health Minister Alain Berset earlier this year declared a war against obesity, noting that it is costing the health care system billions of francs.

Berset promised to expand awareness of healthy diets and to ensure that children get a minimum amount of exercise in schools.

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