Prevalence of obesity and overweight and associated nutritional factors in a population-based Swiss sample: an opportunity to analyze the impact of three different European cultural roots

Eur J Nutr. 2014 Aug;53(5):1281-90. doi: 10.1007/s00394-013-0643-2. Epub 2013 Dec 28.


Purpose: Obesity represents a growing public health concern worldwide. The latest data in Switzerland rely on self-reported body mass index (BMI), leading to underestimation of prevalence. We reassessed the prevalence of obesity and overweight in a sample of the Swiss population using measured BMI and waist circumference (WC) and explored the association with nutritional factors and living in different linguistic-cultural regions.

Methods: Data of 1,505 participants of a cross-sectional population-based survey in the three linguistic regions of Switzerland were analyzed. BMI and WC were measured, and a 24-h urine collection was performed to evaluate dietary sodium, potassium and protein intake.

Results: The prevalence of overweight, obesity and abdominal obesity was 32.2, 14.2 and 33.6%, respectively. Significant differences were observed in the regional distribution, with a lower prevalence in the Italian-speaking population. Low educational level, current smoking, scarce physical activity and being migrant were associated with an higher prevalence of obesity. Sodium, potassium and protein intake increased significantly across BMI categories.

Conclusions: Obesity and overweight affect almost half of the Swiss adolescents and adults, and the prevalence appears to increase. Using BMI and WC to define obesity led to different prevalences. Differences were furthermore observed across Swiss linguistic-cultural regions, despite a common socio-economic and governmental framework. We found a positive association between obesity and salt intake, with a potential deleterious synergistic effect on cardiovascular risk.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Body Mass Index
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Dietary Proteins / administration & dosage
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Logistic Models
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Nutrition Surveys
  • Nutritional Status*
  • Obesity, Abdominal / epidemiology*
  • Overweight / epidemiology*
  • Potassium, Dietary / administration & dosage
  • Prevalence
  • Risk Factors
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Sodium, Dietary / administration & dosage
  • Switzerland / epidemiology
  • Waist Circumference
  • White People
  • Young Adult


  • Dietary Proteins
  • Potassium, Dietary
  • Sodium, Dietary