Almost half of the people in Almeria are overweight IDEAL
Almería, the only province in Spain where nearly half the population is overweight

Almería, the only province in Spain where nearly half the population is overweight

A new study has shone a spotlight on obesity in Spain, with Andalucía not recording flattering results

David Roth


Monday, 20 May 2024, 19:48

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Obesity has become a major global health concern. It is a modern disease that is not only due to reasons such as sedentary lifestyles, unhealthy diets that are rich in sugars and carbohydrates, but also due to socio-economic, cultural and environmental factors.

It is a condition that is growing, leading to cardiovascular disease, diabetes, musculoskeletal problems, cancer and even psychological problems.

A joint report by the Carlos III Health Institute and the Spanish Food Safety and Nutrition Agency has shone a spotlight on the Almeria province, which has the highest prevalence of overweight people in Spain. According to the study, 44.1% of the population in Almeria is overweight.

Also, 64% of the population in Almeria exceeds the healthy limit established by authorities. By sex, the data varies: Men are the most overweight, almost half of the male population is affected, while in women it is 39.7%, the highest figure at national level.

To measure whether or not a person is overweight, doctors and nutrition experts use the body mass index (BMI), a formula that divides a person's weight in kilogrammes by their height in metres. If it is less than 18.5, the weight is insufficient. If it exceeds 25 and 29.9, it is overweight, and if the BMI is 30.0 or higher, it is obese.

With regard to the latter, the obesity rate, according to this study, is 19.9%, with 21.2% in men and 18.5% in women. Only 6% of the population suffers from severe obesity, when their BMI is equal to or higher than 40, at which point treatment is necessary to combat the physical and psychological symptoms.

Among many other measures that can be taken are adopting a balanced diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains and lean protein, limiting consumption of processed foods and sugary drinks; regular exercise, including aerobic exercise, strength and flexibility training, to help burn calories and improve cardiovascular and muscular health; stress and sleep management such as meditation and yoga; and making sure to get enough rest and quality sleep.

Another report, not at all flattering, is the Spanish population nutritional study (Estudio Nutricional de la Población Española ENPE), published in one of the latest issues of the Spanish cardiology magazine (Revista Española de Cardiología REC).

In the study, 3,801 men and women between 25 and 64 years of age participated, it concluded that four out of every adult in Spain is overweight. In addition, among men, weight increases significantly among the 25-34 age group, followed by the 35-44 age group, while among women, weight increases significantly with advancing age.

"The data obtained reaffirm the estimates previously made in other research, such as the ENRICA study, which between 2008 and 2010 estimated a prevalence of obesity of 22.9% in the Spanish population over the age of 18," said the department of preventive medicine and public health at the University of Navarra.

"Obesity is linked to socio-cultural level; the more disadvantaged the socio-cultural level, the higher the obesity tends to be. The crisis has also had an influence, as people have opted for cheaper but less healthy foods, such as prefabricated products, with more fat, and they have not allocated money to the gym."

"You should opt for spoon dishes, as well as more vegetables and fruit, and also do an hour of exercise a day. You can even use a pedometer (it's very cheap or there are even apps on your mobile), to count about 10,000 steps a day which can be done by climbing stairs or walking instead of using public transport," they added.

 By region 

The ENPE study analysed this prevalence according to regions. The highest obesity rates were found in Asturias (25.7%), Galicia (24.9%) and Andalucía (24.4%), while the lowest rates were recorded in the Balearic Islands (10.5%), Catalonia (15.5%) and the Basque Country (17.9%). "The data segmented by regions highlight the concern of health professionals to try to curb and even reverse this situation," they said.

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