Survey: nearly half of Swiss are overweight

The Swiss may want to swap cheese and chocolate for fruit and vegetables after a report said nearly half the population is overweight.

Survey: nearly half of Swiss are overweight
Only 13 percent eat the recommended five portions of fruit and veg a day. Photo: Rob Owen-Wahl

Neither do most Swiss eat the recommended five portions of fruit and vegetables a day, according to a national survey on eating habits commissioned by the Federal Food Safety Office (BLV).

Of the 2,000 adults surveyed across the whole of Switzerland, 44 percent were found to be overweight, the BLV said in a statement.

Men were twice as likely to be overweight as women.

And only 13 percent of those surveyed ate the recommended five portions of fruit and veg a day, found the BLV.

Around a quarter managed between three and four portions a day, and 87 percent ate one or more portions.

While the figures were similar across the country, the survey did find one regional difference of note.

While only 13-14 percent of people in the German and French-speaking regions ate less than one portion of fruit and veg a day, that figure rose to 22 percent in the Italian-speaking region.

The people surveyed answered questions related to their eating habits and physical activity.

These findings are part of a larger survey conducted by Lausanne University on behalf of the BLV and the Federal Public Health Office.

Earlier this year another report found that a sixth of school students in three major Swiss cities were overweight, although numbers had fallen nearly three percent over the previous decade.

And in March Neuchâtel University announced a new centre to treat obesity, which one doctor told The Local was an “epidemic” in Switzerland.

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Reader question: Can I put my Swiss health insurance on hold if I’m abroad?

Given how expensive health insurance premiums are in Switzerland, you may be tempted to suspend your policy while you are abroad. Is this possible?

Reader question: Can I put my Swiss health insurance on hold if I'm abroad?

Unlike the obligatory car insurance, which you can suspend temporarily by depositing your registration plates at the local motor vehicles office, rules pertaining to health insurance are much stricter.

As the Federal Office of Public Health explains it, “If you leave the country for a certain period to travel or study but do not take up residence abroad, you are still required to have [health] insurance in Switzerland”.

In other words, as long as you are a registered resident of Switzerland, regardless of your nationality or passport, you must keep your compulsory Swiss health insurance and pay your premiums. While you do this, you also remain covered against most medical emergencies while you travel.

However, rules are less stringent for supplemental health plans which can, in some cases, be put on hold, depending on the insurance provider, according to Switzerland’s Moneyland consumer website.

The only exception allowed for suspending the health insurance coverage is during a military or civil protection service which lasts more than 60 consecutive days.

“During these periods, the risks of illness and accident are covered by military insurance. Your health insurance provider will refund your premiums”, according to FOPH.

Under what circumstances can you cancel your Swiss health insurance?

Swiss law says you can cancel your insurance if you are moving abroad, either permanently for for a period exceeding three months.

If you do so, only claims for treatments given while you still lived in Switzerland will be paid by your insurance; any medical bills for treatment incurred after you officially leave will be denied.

These are the procedures for cancelling your compulsory health insurance if you leave the country under conditions mentioned above

To announce your departure abroad, you must send your insurance carrier a letter including your name, customer number or AVS/AHV number.

You must also include a certificate from your place of residence in Switzerland confirming that you have de-registered from your current address, as well as the date of your departure.

Note, however, that if your new destination is another Swiss community / canton, rather than a foreign country, your insurance can only be cancelled from the following calendar year and only if you present proof of having taken up a new policy with another company.

READ MORE: EXPLAINED: How to register your address in Switzerland

You can find out more information about this process here

If you suspend your health insurance for less than six years, you can reactivate it at a later date with the same company when you return to Switzerland.

READ MORE : What you should know about your Swiss health insurance before you go abroad