Obesity is a road which in many cases begins during childhood. It is not only adults who suffer from excess weight, and the problem has increased alarmingly among children, to the extent that it has tripled in the past 20 years. In Malaga province, approximately 40 per cent of children weigh more than they should, says paediatric endocrinologist Juan Pedro López Siguero, who works at the Materno Infantil Hospital in the city.
This specialist says that despite the measures put into effect in recent years to combat obesity in childhood, there has not been a significant difference because advances in this field are slow. In the case of Malaga, child obesity ranges from 10 to 12 per cent, while between 25 and 30 per cent can be classified as overweight.
These children's health can be affected later in life. It has been shown that overweight children are more at risk of suffering illnesses such as Type 2 diabetes, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, fatty liver, acute myocardial infarction and problems with the locomotor apparatus in adulthood, among other illnesses.
Two main factors lie behind the increase in overweight and obese children. One is poor diet, with too much fast food or junk food, and the other is the lack of physical exercise. Doctors recommend following the Mediterranean diet, which is rich in vegetables, pulses, nuts, olive oil, oily fish, fruits and cereals, and being active.
Dr López Siguero says children eat very quickly and sometimes don't eat with their family. When they also have a sedentary lifestyle, they are vulnerable to excess weight or obesity. That is why experts insist they take more exercise in their everyday life instead of spending so many hours in front of the television, video console, tablet or computer.