People tend to think that Finland is a very equal country. Sure it’s true in most matters, for example when it comes to gender equality.
But it’s also true that those with less education, who are unemployed and poor die younger and are sicker than those who have a good education, job and a higher income. No surprise, but the phenomenon is still quite new here and we are not sure how to talk about it being “politically correct”.
I just found out that in Finland we actually have exceptionally big differences when it comes to the mortality rate between the different socioeconomic groups. When a 35-year-old worker’s life expectancy is 74 years, his boss can easily expect to live 6 years longer. Quite a few years to spend in traveling, playing golf and enjoying your grandchildren.
When it comes to your health, one of the most important factors is the food you eat. And Finns are fatter than the other Nordics: only 33% of Finnish men and 48% of women are of normal weight.
Not everyone is getting fat, though, as eating habits are fast differentiating between the groups. Simplifying a bit, it seems that every day the rich eat better and better while the poor consume worse and worse products. Why?
Yes, the food is very expensive here in Finland. Some say that this is why the poor buy pizzas, chips, white bread, cookies, candy – filled with additives. But are they really so much cheaper?
OK let’s make a fast comparison:
- A kilo of fresh potatoes: 0,75€
- A pack of potato chips: 3€
= the healthy option is cheaper – like in many other cases!
Also our forests and lakes are full of clean superfood: berries, mushroom, fish… You just have to go and pick it.
Now the state is starting to tax harder all the unhealthy stuff. My wild guess is that this won’t make things better and Finns healthier.
I think it’s more a question of human mentality. For example, when you are unemployed and have lost your dream, what’s the point of staying fit and eating vitamines?
The gap is widening between those who care about their health and those who are letting go. It’s normal that you don’t feel like cooking a healthy dinner if your life seems miserable. Maybe you order a pizza and to the sofa – definitely not the healthiest and probably not even the cheapest option.
Sometimes it’s a question of knowledge – even if here in Finland every kid has at least 1 year of compulsory classes of Home Economics where they are taught about healthy diet and how to cook it.
I’m of course generalizing. There are many exceptions.
And Finns are good at blaming the others. Perhaps we can blame the cold climate? When it gets -20C outside you grave for sugar and fat – you don’t feel like eating a salad but something hot and filling!
Or maybe it’s in our genes? Finns love sugar. We drink about 70 litres of limonades and sodas and consume 10 kilos of candies per person a year. Something should be done… soon.