16 Oct, 2010 @ 17:45
1 min read

Obesity: Public enemy number one

By Wendy Williams

SPAIN has the third highest level of child obesity in the world.

The issue has become Spain’s “public enermy number one,” according to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), who commissioned the report.

Over the last 30 years, obesity has spread to “epidemic” proportions, despite billions of euros being spent to remedy it, found the report.

An alarming 30 per cent of teenagers are overweight, putting Spain just behind America and Scotland for obesity.

It comes as statistics reveal that a staggering 40 per cent of youths aged between 13 and 18 never practice sport.

Moreover the OECD predicts that the number of overweight people will rise by a further 10 per cent over the next decade.

This comes as the Spanish health ministry already spends 2.5 billion euros a year on obesity-related illnesses.

Some two thirds of men are already overweight in Spain, while one in six is officially obese.

Unhealthy diets and a lack of exercise are to blame for the rapidly-growing trend.

Modern Spanish families are moving away from the traditional Mediterranean diet and eating more fats and sugars than ever before.

According to Roberto Sabrido from the Spanish Food Safety Agency, people have changed how they eat.

He said: “People no longer eat as a family and the food and the time dedicated to eating is not the same.”

Moreover, with so much exposure to the internet, television and videogames the younger generation is getting lazy.

The problem is expected to cost the Spanish state, as overweight people are more likely to develop diseases such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease and cancer.

In fact, one in every five adolescents in Spain now runs the risk of suffering major cardiovascular problems in later life.

Jon Clarke (Publisher & Editor)

Jon Clarke is a Londoner who worked at the Daily Mail and Mail on Sunday as an investigative journalist before moving permanently to Spain in 2003 where he helped set up the Olive Press. He is the author of three books; Costa Killer, Dining Secrets of Andalucia and My Search for Madeleine.

Do you have a story? Contact newsdesk@theolivepress.es


  1. Hold on a minute, the Olive Press was telling us last week that Spain’s Mediterranean diet was the envy of the world. All those walnuts, olives, fruit and veg…

    The truth is that the average Spanish family can’t wait to get down Burger King lol. Just look at the queues in your mall when you next visit.

  2. Spain to face obesity child epidemic while Spanish Dietitians-Nutritionists, available since 1998, claim their presence in Public Health: Spanish nonsense.
    Overweight and obesity in Spanish children has raised to reach worst figures in the world, including the USA.
    Spain has become first world country in overweight and child obesity, with a 45,2% for children from 6 to 10 years old.
    Spanish Mediterranean Diet seems have been insufficient to stop the growing overweight in Spanish children.
    The lack of Dietitians-Nutritionists which are not included in their Public Health, one of the best in the world, may be the main reason.
    1.- Fighting against childhood obesity should be a political priority of the European Union and its Member States, and their Members should develop a common legislation.
    2.- European Union must legislate and according to evidence urge Spanish Government to include urgently Dietitians-Nutritionists in Spanish Public Health.

  3. Where are all these obese kids in Spain? I lived in Madrid for 10 years and I can count on one hand the amount of obese kids that I saw. I mean it was one of the main things that really caught my attention when I left the US and went to Spain.

  4. I have no idea where you think your getting these “facts” from.
    I have lived in Madrid for two years. I work as a teacher with kids and I cannot recall any obese children.
    In the fast food joints, the people that do attend these places will go there once a month if that, and they never order a large meal. The majority will go for tapas in their local bar if they decide to go out. However as Spanish people have a passion for food in general, most people will have a healthy home cooked meal.
    As I say I have lived in Spain for a couple of years and I do have a good knoledge of nutrition.
    I suggest you get you facts straight before slagging anyone else off.

  5. Unbelieveable comments,
    David & Mike you worked (past tense) in Madrid – how many years ago.

    We lived in Galicia for just under 2 years (2001-2)and I saw the weight going on fast. Same thing in Guadix, indeed the obesity in Spain is matched by the UK.

    Nicolas – your indulging in classic Spanish denial syndrome.

    Check out the BBC – the men who made us fat. It started in the US in the 1970s’ with the deliberate use of corn starch and loading food with sugar and salt.

    Take away the sugar and salt and watch the sales of junk food fall through the floor.

    I find watching UK TV hard work – being a fat slob is the new norm, to be trim and fit makes one a freak nowadays and the fatties and smokers expect the healthy to pick up the tab.

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