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THL: Finland’s Fat Population Hits 1M

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The Body Mass Index (BMI) of approximately 1.2 million adults in Finland exceeds the obesity threshold, according to the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare’s (THL) Healthy Finland study.

Obesity is most common among people aged 40 to 64, with one-third of this age group classified as obese based on their body mass index, which is determined by dividing a person’s weight by the square of their height.

The health watchdog is not only concerned about numbers creeping up on the scale, it’s also worried about the nation’s expanding waistline. Nearly half of adults’ waists in the country are too big.

The threshold for abdominal obesity is a circumference exceeding 90 centimeters in women and 100 centimeters in men.

Working age people between the ages of 20 and 64 have seen their waists increase the most, according to the THL. Since 2017, obesity in Finland has increased by three percentage points among working-age men and four percentage points among women.

Life-limiting diseases

Annamari Lundqvist, who led the THL study, said broad societal action was necessary to prevent people from gaining more weight, as obesity packs on an additional billion euros in annual healthcare costs. Carrying excess fat around the middle is known to raise the risk of serious conditions, including type 2 diabetes.

Lundqvist suggested measures such as marketing restrictions and taxes on unhealthy foods.

The study also found that one in two adults has elevated blood pressure or is taking medication to reduce it.

“It is likely that blood pressure medication is started with too low a dose and too late. With obesity becoming more prevalent, blood pressure will also rise in the future, this [obesity] is also observed in cholesterol levels,” said Lara Lehtoranta, the physician in charge of the study, in a THL release.

Over three million Finns have problems with their lipid metabolism, meaning they either have elevated blood cholesterol levels or are on cholesterol lowering medication. About a quarter of those using medication still have high cholesterol levels.

Source: Yle

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