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Nutritious panties to cheer up glum Swedes

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23:55 CET+01:00
A new study by the Swedish government's National Institute for Working Life has found that students and young people are feeling particularly down in the dumps these days. But luckily a clothing retailer has just the tonic - underwear containing vitamins.

Don't try eating it, though. Lindex's new knickers impregnated with vitamin C are meant to be kept on - for "a complete feeling of health from the inside out".

Unsurprisingly, nutrition experts were not convinced.

"Is this a bad joke?" asked Nils Georg Asp, professor of nutrition science at Lund university, who said he didn't believe vitamin C could be taken in through the skin. Neither did his colleague Margareta Nyman, who pointed out that vitamin C needs water to be properly absorbed.

Sydsvenskan asked a series of dieticians and nutrition experts about the underwear and they got straight to the bottom of the matter: "A ploy," said one. "The dumbest thing I've ever heard," added another. "Pure piracy," said a third.

Lindex spokeswoman Ulrika Danielsson didn't have specific research proving the underwear is beneficial, but said that developers in Japan came up with the product and she believes what they say.

Last year Lindex sold tights impregnated with aloe vera.

"They sold fairly well, but not so much that we're offering them again this year," Danielsson said to Sydsvenskan.

You can hardly blame the Swedes for looking for a quick cure. A new book published by two Swedish government agencies reveals a national malaise. Interviews with 12,000 Swedes between 1986 and 2001 concluded that young people and students are especially tired and depressed - and it's getting worse.

In the first year, 30 percent said they felt anxious, worried and tired. In the study's final year that number had risen to 40 percent.

Swedish radio, Aftonbladet and DN all reported on the wretched Swedes, noting that retired people seem to be the only group that feels fine. The Institute's Lennart Hallsten, in interviews with all major media, said the results surprised him.

"It's frightening to see the biggest change among the 16 to 19 year olds. Then it's a big surprise that other groups outside the working population show the same decline as the people who are working," Hallsten said on Swedish radio.

It's not clear what has caused Swedes to feel so despondent. Hallsten surmises that it's a lifestyle problem. "Maybe it's pressure, stress, of not having time to do everything," he says.

Perhaps researchers should have asked the women who work at Vodafone. Computer Sweden reported this week that among telecom competitors Vodafone, TeliaSonera and Tele2, women at the first company are sick most often.

From April 2003 to March 2004, women at Tele2 were sick less than 5% of the time. TeliaSonera's female staff were absent on average 8.6% of the time, but the Vodafone figure was over 10%.

A company spokesperson says it's not because of the work environment, but because 15% of the women were pregnant during that time.

Now, about that underwear...

Sources: Dagens Nyheter, Sydsvenskan, Aftonbladet, SR, Computer Sweden

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