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Spanish medics call for action against obesity


Spain’s obesity rate has been rising steadily in recent years, fuelled by the spread of fast food.

Medics are calling for a change in attitudes, and a return to traditional eating habits, to avoid a national health crisis.

Lucia’s weight has put her health in danger. A few months ago she stood on the scales, and when it showed 90 kilos, she realised she had to get things under control.

“My legs went to sleep, they were totally swollen, I couldn’t go to the shops. And I then realised that I had to do something about it”, she says.

“I used to wear size 38, then 48, then 50. And then it became clear that something was wrong – there were no clothes of my size in the shops.”

Lucy’s following a programme that’s brought her weight down to 76 kilos, but she’s aiming to lose another 10. She’s suffered severe health problems as a result of her weight. Medics say obesity causes a whole range of diseases.

“The main consequence is that quality of life deteriorates. Whether you have common illnesses like diabetes, hypertension, high cholesterol, cardiovascular disease, arthrosis - all of them exacerbated by obesity, and many can actually be caused by obesity," says Manuel Gargallo, Secretary of the Spanish Society for Obesity Research.

Spain faces the same problem as almost all Western countries. In fact, the situation is increasingly similar to the U.S., which has the highest obesity rate in the world. A study by the Dr Gargallo shows that 60% of the Spanish population is overweight or obese.

Medics are trying to encourage people to improve their eating habits and do more exercise.

The most worrying trend is child obesity. One in three children in Spain are classed as overweight, according to a report of the Spanish Society for Public Health.

Part of the cause is the move away from local natural produce, towards fast food.

“People should have enough time to cook and make better meals. We eat a lot of ready-made meals, whether for reasons of time, or due to fatigue and ease, and the quality of what we eat depends on it," says Inés de Miguel Pérez, director of a medical clinic.

Some restaurants are trying hard to counter this trend – offering healthy, balanced, low-fat food made from traditional Mediterranean produce.

“Today for example we could take ‘un pote gallego’, accompanied with a salad, and then a roast chicken. We can end up with a fruit salad or an apple pie," says Nacho Carmona, Fresc Co supervisor.

Medics say that to change eating habits, society’s awareness of food issues needs to be improved.


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