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Swedes Soon the Slimmest People in the Western World?

Fetma

new OECD report shows that the number of obese people in most developed countries has doubled or tripled between the 1980s and 2009. This disaster coincides with the fear of fat.

Interestingly Norway and Sweden are among the slimmest countries in 2009. Considering the LCHF revolution going on in these countries (butter shortage and everything) the future looks promising.

Will Sweden soon be the slimmest country in the Western world?

More

How bad science created the obesity epidemic

Stupid fear of cholesterol and obesity

A diet book for kids (!) and what it can teach us

The American obesity epidemic 1989 – 2010

PS: Japan and Korea has a lower percentage of obese people (measured as BMI>30) than the rest of the countries in the chart above. I removed them as BMI isn’t a good comparison between mostly Caucasian and Asian populations.

Asians are (on average) of a slimmer build with less muscular limbs. They get truncal obesity and obesity-related diseases (e.g. diabetes) at lower BMI levels. The comparison thus isn’t really fair.

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41 Comments

  1. Quarrel
    I'm sure you're right that Asian's are of average a slimmer build, but averages are incredibly deceptive - Korea was the poorest country in the world only 50 years ago - is the average the thing to look at?

    Race is rarely more than a cultural construct- I thought all such differences (ie BMI - yes I know there are a some genetic factors in disease etc!) disappeared amongst emigres? Is your Asian "truncal obesity" "at lower BMI levels" true for asians born in Sweden/America raised on similar diets?

    --Q

  2. Maggan A
    Come on and sing along everyone. Freddie Mercury in memoriam ;-)

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=04854XqcfCY&ob=av3e

  3. As someone who has a fair dose of skepticism I did about 2 minutes of digging and I'm not buying this. If you try to find the actual data you can get to this page http://www.oecd.org/document/16/0,3746,en_2649_33929_2085200_1_1_1_1,... with frequently requested tables in a large Excel spreadsheet. If you look at the data for obesity (measured, not self-reported, which is what the chart is supposed to show) it is mostly blank.

    I live in the Czech Republic and have been to Sweden many times, and I'm just not seeing it in my N=1 opinion. Men tend to be fatter here from beer consumption but Swedish women are definitely fatter than Czech women as far as my ogling eye can tell.

  4. Maggan A
    Sean

    Your no 1 opinion is spelled "anecdotes". Has nothing to do with real sciense i´m afraid.

  5. moreporkplease
    "I live in the Czech Republic and have been to Sweden many times, and I'm just not seeing it in my N=1 opinion. Men tend to be fatter here from beer consumption but Swedish women are definitely fatter than Czech women as far as my ogling eye can tell."

    And in my n=1 observation, Americans are just as slim as the French.

    Well, maybe that's just because my time divides between Manhattan and San Francisco, where very rich young white people in designer clothes skew the view?

    Maybe if I went to a rural Mississippi or Iowa town I'd have a different perspective?

  6. Rachel
    What's striking is the huge difference between the US and Canada. Why's that? They have similar access to similar terrible food.
  7. @moreporkplease, yes, I agree, like I said, I'm just a natural skeptic but the main point was that I dug into the OECD chart and it seems to be a house of cards. If you can show otherwise, be my guest.

    @Maggan A, that's why I said it was just my skewed opinion, not a matter of sciense (sic). As I just pointed out, my main point was, blah blah. Let me guess, you are Swedish and you'd prefer to let a nationalistic thrill run up your leg in the guise of a Queen song?

  8. Funderaren
    Sean, you missing the point. This have nothing to do with "my country is better then yours" thinking. It shows us that countries that has a healty view of fat among the general population doesnt have the same problem with weight.

    I would be happy if every other country on the list beat us in this the next time, if it is because of them eating better food.

  9. Johanna
    Maybe Swedish women are fatter than Czech dito but if Czech men are comparatively much more fatter than Swedish men (due to the wonderfully tasty Czech beer!) the statistics above may be absolutely correct!
  10. Maggan A
    Sean

    If i´m not mistaken Your main piont is that you are from the Czech Republic. Sorry but that is not enough to prove anything.

  11. @Funderaren, actually you are missing the point. The Czechs are still absorbing the paradigm that SFAs are "unhealthy". My wife's family were happily eating lard on bread ten years ago. I'm an American and I wouldn't argue that Americans are obese, so I'm not trying to be nationalistic here. I just question the data after doing a very, very quick dig into it. My skepticism is bolstered by the fact that I've spent a decent amount of time in Scandanavia (especially Scania) and it's not exactly teeming with skinny people, less so than here IMHO.
  12. Maggan A
    Sean
    Shoud we not trust the OECD reports?

    Scania? my husband is working there. There is a hwole lot of people loosing weight with LCHF...

  13. @Johanna, yes they may very well be correct, but I'd like to see the data and that seems woefully missing. Am I the only one into confirming data around here?

    @Maggan A, yes you are very much mistaken.

  14. @Maggan A, "Shoud we not trust the OECD reports?" Wow. Did you follow the link I posted, and the line of reasoning? Don't answer that it was rhetorical, and yes, you'll need to look up rhetorical.

    I meant Scania as in the region in southern Sweden, not the company. Another wow.

  15. Funderaren
    You are talking about Skane? They are more Danish then Swedish. ;)
  16. Maggan A
    Sean

    No I did not follow any link of yours. Read Docs post higher up in the begining of this post. It starts "A new OECD report..."

    I dont know anything about the wheigt of people hwo live in Scania/Skåne. Sweden is a large country.

  17. @Funderaren yeah, as they often freely admit. But it is spelled Scania in English http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scania
  18. @Maggan A, well I'm glad you understand the difference between sciense (sic) and blind obedience. Do you really want to keep going with this?
  19. Maggan A
    Sean

    I keep on going whit "this"(LCHF) for the rest of my life. Minus 15 kg in ten months and never felt better.

  20. @Maggan A, and where was I criticizing LCHF? I think I've been quite reasonable despite your utter lack of logic or reasoning skills. But you really are an idiot. I've known plenty of intelligent Swedes in my life, some of them my closest friends, so I realize you are the exception more than the rule.
  21. Maggan A
    Sean

    Yes you are right. Sorry if I got carried away - this post is not about LCHF. But you are a bigger idiot than me because i never discuss whit people i consider "real" idiots.

  22. Lynda NZ
    How proud am I to live in the third most obese nation in the world? Not very! I think New Zealand's figures are influenced greatly by our very high Polynesian population but it sadens me greatly to see a country like ours full of fat people. Many now live on the cheaper, higher carbohydrate foods oblivious to the harm it is doing.
  23. @Maggan A, "i never discuss whit people i consider "real" idiots." You are right, I should have let your words speak for themselves.

    Look, I can keep doing this all night, you make it way too easy. How about we both agree that LCHF rocks and English is not your native language? Also, that Sweden is a really cool country despite taking itself a bit too seriously at times? Oh, and that all Scanians are really crypto-Danes.

  24. Maggan A
    Sean

    I agree 100% ;-)

  25. Groovy :)
  26. @Sean: You seem to have been misinterpreted by a few people in these comments. I appreciate your skepticism and went to have a look at the figures myself. You are quite right that there are large blanks in the data you link to for the "Obesity, percentage of total adult population with a BMI>30 kg/m2, based on self-reports" compared to the data for "Obesity, percentage of total adult population with a BMI>30 kg/m2, based on measures of height and weight" and considering the date, "Source: OECD Health Data 2011, June 2011", this is hardly old data.

    I would be interested to hear Dr Eenfeldt's opinion on that.

  27. Meghan
    @Rachel. We're not as fat as the Americans. We're getting fatter, but we're not even close to them yet. When we cross the border, the first things we notice are the dilapidated buildings, worse roads, and the generally larger size of people. I think one reason may be the smaller size of our population, and a lot of people still cooking whole foods, rather than going for convenience foods and eating out. We also have far fewer choices in terms of restaurants and packaged foods, again likely due to our population being 1/10th of theirs. The selection is quite "slim" on our shelves, in comparison.
  28. JAUS
    Sean: Scania is probably the fattest landskap of Sweden (no, I don't have any statistics to back this up, I know that, but it's not the main point anyway), so if you mainly been there then you're really comparing the Czech Republic with Scania, not Sweden in general. I'm not saying that you're wrong, just that your reasoning is flawed. Also your observations are not reliable at all since I really doubt that you really have registered everyone you met at both places, so your observation is more of an after thought and thus highly subjective. As you can see I'm also a skeptic.
  29. @Sean - You're right: the holes in the raw data set are astounding. The chart implies numbers taken from the same years when they often are different in the raw data, and the chart is dominated by self-reported data, which is notoriously inaccurate. Besides, with the Swiss listed as healthiest, we must now explain why fondue, heavily dependent on white wine and bread, is the most slimming food on the planet!

    I am as big a fan of LCHF as you will find, and I want us to succeed in persuading people. We must be careful about citing data so easy to refute, because it implies that we're not serious about scientifically deciding on the cause of obesity.

    As for trusting the OECD, I am not inclining to rely on any agency funded by governments: the political establishment is one of our biggest opponents in trying to get a healthy message out.

    We have plenty of sound evidence to support LCHF. We should be better than the LFHC crowd, and carefully scrutinize data that appears to support our position as well as data that appears to oppose it. Most of it, on both sides, is highly suspect, and I am grateful to Sean for getting me to click on a link I probably would have skipped, assuming a much greater degree of rigor than was actually applied.

    The fact that the OECD chart is a misleading mess does not, in any way, refute LCHF. But it isn't a particularly useful support for it. And I suspect Dr. Eenfeldt was mainly enjoying a chance to engage in lighthearted bragging about Sweden, and didn't seriously consider this report to be the foundation of a scientific defense of LCHF.

  30. Paul
    British women are the fattest in Europe as a QUARTER are classed as obese

    Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-2066060/British-women-fatte...

    No data for Sweden.

  31. @Nick, thanks for looking at the data. Strange right?

    @JAUS, of course it's totally subjective I'm pretty sure I made that clear. I've been other places in Sweden including Loftahammar after I took a boat from Prague to L. with a friend (long story). My reasoning is not flawed because I freely admit my skepticism is based on opinon. You might want to look up the definition of a skeptic.

    @Less Antman, very well said. Abandoning scientific rigor and honest skepticism is not the way to go.

  32. Gogge
    @Sean

    Your basic premise is flawed ("measured, not self-reported, which is what the chart is supposed to show"), the data is self-reported unless noted by the "1" (as for Luxemburg, UK, Austria, etc.). If you look at Sweden in the chart for example it's listed at 5.5 for 1990 with the note that it's the 1989 data, when you look at the (excel) self-reported data for Sweden it's lacking data for 1990 and has 5.5 at 1989.

    Unless I misread your post that explains the discrepancy.

  33. @Gogge, aha, I think you are correct, I totally missed that. So most of the data is self-reported.

    I've seen people use self-reported diet studies to "prove" that low-fat diets don't work any better than low-carb diets. (Matt Metzgar thought this study, http://www.mattmetzgar.com/files/lowcarb2years.pdf, proof that LC diets don't work any better than LF). Using the Dr House rule (everybody lies) I don't consider self-reported data very useful. And don't tell me he's just a TV character, damnit!

  34. Raclette
    @Less Antman: you are right about the bread! My husband and I eat Fondue LCHF-style with cauliflower and broccoli. That's how the two of us got the numbers for our nation down singlehandedly :)
  35. what is the diet of Italian and swiss?
  36. Miss S
    I would not use the term caucasian if I were you.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Caucasian_race

  37. Raclette
    @Lucio: Italy is rather long, so the diet varies depending where you look. In my experience, many Italians still prepare and enjoy real foods.
    We Swiss have some typical cheese based dishes that are regularly eaten by most families. There is a shift towards low fat cheese though. When I speak to teenagers about what they like best, they say pizza, spaghetti and Turkish kebab. With an energy drink.
  38. I realized that I've never known a fat Scandanavian! I shared space in a building with a Swedish school for years, and while some were maybe a bit stockier there were no fat people. You would never find a similar group in my area where there wouldn't be heavy people. Way to go Sweden!
  39. Great weblog here! Also your web site so much up fast! What host are you using? Can I am getting your affiliate link for your host? I wish my website loaded up as fast as yours lol
  40. Wade Henderson
    "PS: Japan and Korea has a lower percentage of obese people (measured as BMI>30) than the rest of the countries in the chart above. I removed them as BMI isn’t a good comparison between mostly Caucasian and Asian populations."

    Oh my!

    Just saw this older thread.
    Hmm, just happened to exclude those two nations due to them being Asian?
    or excluding them because their diets don't fit a theory or theme?

    :Please, by that definition we'll need to exclude the dietary patterns of over half the world.
    Humans have a unbelieveable ability to find exactly what they are looking for.
    The internet has made this trait all the more pervasive.

  41. ek
    My mother is Swedish and my father is Czech.
    I wonder how many of us there are..

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