Obese, but feeling slim

More than 55 per cent of people in Spain are overweight.
More than 55 per cent of people in Spain are overweight. / SUR
  • The Spanish Society for the Study of Obesity highlights the risks that excess weight poses for people’s health

They look in the mirror and think they’re fine. They’re satisfied with the image in front of them and they don’t notice any excess weight. This is the case with over 80 per cent of people whose weight puts them in the category of “obese”. Even though they are kilos overweight, they don’t admit it and so do nothing to resolve a problem which directly affects their state of health.

A survey released recently by the Spanish Society for the Study of Obesity (Seedo) shows that only 17.8 per cent of people who are obese admit it. Carrying extra kilos can result in diabetes, high cholesterol and triglycerides, high blood pressure and joint pains, among other health problems.

Most Spanish people in the initial stages of obesity are very relaxed about the situation and do not think that excess weight will damage them in any way, explains the president of Seedo and director of the endocrinology and nutrition units at the Carlos Haya and Clínico Universitario hospitals, Francisco Tinahones. It is especially common for older people to fail to see their size, often because they mistakenly believe that being plump is sign of good health.

One thousand people from different places in Spain took part in the Seedo survey.

Dr Tinahones says that 20 per cent of obese people are metabolically healthy, but the remaining 80 per cent face illnesses which affect their quality of life and are dangerous. Being overweight is a warning sign. As soon as it occurs, and before people get any fatter, they should change their lifestyle, eat a healthy diet (the Mediterranean one is best) and take regular exercise.

“More than 55 per cent of the Spanish population between the ages of 18 and 65 weigh too much,” says Dr Tinahones. Of those, 18 to 20 per cent are already showing signs of obesity.

In the doctor’s opinion, people who are obese do not see it as being a real problem, and that attitude needs to be changed because otherwise the health system faces huge costs.

“The figures show that people’s perception of obesity is so low that it is difficult to get them to do anything about it,” he says.

Stop snacking

One thing which contributes to extra weight is snacking between meals. More than 60 per cent of obese people do this, and they usually eat food which is high in calories. On the other hand, fewer than 30 per cent of people who are not overweight eat between meals. Experts say that if the urge to eat something is really powerful, the best options are fruit, carrots or lettuce leaves.

For those who want to get rid of extra kilos, the first step is to admit that they are overweight or have become obese. According to Seedo, everyone has to find their own remedy.

“There is always a solution for excess weight. You have to find out what it is, and apply it,” says Dr Tinahones. He insists it is essential to change lifestyle habits, eat a healthy diet and take regular exercise.

By restricting calories (eating less and better) and becoming less sedentary, people can lose weight, stressed the expert. Three basic rules are: sleep well (restorative sleep prevents obesity), don’t snack between meals and take exercise (walk, swim, or cycle).

Obesity can be beaten, but in order to do so it is essential that the person who is overweight realises they are not quite as slim and healthier as they think they are.