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Chunky Swedes chase US ‘knee-busting’ obesity

Chunky Swedes chase US ‘knee-busting’ obesity

Published: 24 Apr 2012 13:12 GMT+02:00
Updated: 24 Apr 2012 13:12 GMT+02:00

Swedes are piling on the pounds and getting too heavy for their knee joints, causing an increasing number of middle-aged Swedes to have to resort to knee surgery and prosthetic joints.

“It is a clear trend. We see the same developments in Finland, Britain, the US and Australia, but we are still a bit behind these countries,” said orthopaedist Tore Dalén, of the Swedish Orthopaedic Association to daily Dagens Nyheter (DN).

According to the paper, there are some 13,000 knee prosthesis operations carried out in Sweden every year, which amounts to three times as many as during the 1990s. The increase is also clearly visible in all age groups.

But new figures from the Swedish knee prosthetic register show that the numbers are soaring among those in the age span of 45-54. In 1990, 80 such operations were carried out. In 2010, the corresponding number was 880.

The figures also showed that eight in ten that have the surgery are overweight or obese, meaning that they have a Body Mass Index (BMI) of at least 25. For a man or a woman who is 167 centimetres tall, that would mean a weight from 70 kilogrammes and up.

“It is clear that several more of our patients today are obese and this is something we discuss during our surgery seminars. We generally say that if Average Joe of Sweden would lose ten kilogrammes of weight, the number of knee operations would halve in Sweden," Dalén told the paper.

And according to the experts it doesn’t take that much overweight to constitute knee problems.

Orthopaedist Stefan Lohmander and his colleagues have followed 28,000 Malmö men and women over the course of eleven years. Their study showed that those who were obese were eight times as likely to be affected by such severe arthrosis that they will be in need of knee prostheses.

No one knows how long the new prostheses will last, according to DN. So far, most of those receiving artificial knee joints have been older and therefore less physically active.

Experts fear that many will be forced to have their artificial joints replaced in future, reports DN.

“We are dealing with a ticking bomb. We know that those who are under 65 run twice as high a risk to be forced to have another operation. And the second is rarely as successful as the first,” said Otto Robertsson of the Lund Knee and Hip register.

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Your comments about this article

11:05 April 25, 2012 by cogito
The article mentions the "same developments" in Britain and Finland. And yet this is somehow the fault of the U.S. (in the headline)?

Who pays for the surgery and prostheses for the over-eaters?

Oh, wait. We all do.
10:19 May 1, 2012 by Bob Jacobson
Overweight and obesity are two different indicators. Overweight is indeed the body mass ratio. Obesity is the amount of fat in the body. Overweight is the cause of ergonomic problems, as the article indicates. Obesity is the cause of diabetes and death. Imagine your organs wrapped in fat. That's obesity. It's not always evident, but it's always dangerous. It's too bad that in terms of consumption the Swedish "high quality" of life is in this way associated with excess.

I would venture that as in the USA, overweight and obesity are somewhat correlated with class -- although in Malmö where I reside, I see few immigrants, whose means are generally not as great as the native Swedes, who are overweight. So perhaps culture has something to do with it also.
20:56 May 4, 2012 by vivientoft
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