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Sweden's 'obesity epidemic' shows signs of slowing: study

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08:00 CET+01:00
After decades of progressive weight gain, Swedes' waistlines appear to have stopped expanding, a new study shows.

For the first time in 70 years, the number of obese and overweight people in Sweden hasn't increased, according to statistics presented at the annual meeting of the Swedish Society of Medicine (Svenska Läkaresällskapet) and reviewed by the Dagens Nyheter (DN) newspaper.

“We've been able to stop the growing obesity epidemic in Sweden. The possibility of becoming sick and dying because one is overweight has become part of the public consciousness,” professor Gunnar Johansson of the National Institute of Public Health (Folkhälsoinstitutet ) told the newspaper.

Sweden's have become fatter every year since 1980, the year that Statistics Sweden (SCB) began collecting data on Swedes' weight.

But starting in 2004, the steady weight increase began to level out.

“We aren't seeing a decrease in weight, but there's no increase either and that's a first,” said Johansson.

Despite the encouraging figures, nearly every other Swede – 44 percent of the population – is overweight or obese.

“It's a large threat to both welfare and the social insurance system,” Johansson told DN, adding that, according to calculations by Sweden's public health agency, obesity costs the country about 17 billion kronor ($2.5 billion) every year.

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