DECLINE: Less people are consuming the healthy Mediterranean diet in Spain, swapping, fruit, vegetables, olive oil, fish and nuts for junk food

SPANISH six-to-nine-year-old girls are the second most obese in Europe, new research has revealed.

Around 17% of girls in this age group in Spain are obese, while Cyprus had the worst prevalence with 19%.

Meanwhile Spanish boys of the same age are the fourth most obese in Europe, after Greece (20%), Italy (21%) and Cyprus (21%).

AT RISK: Spain has the second highest number of obese six-to-nine-year-old girls in Europe, while boys are the fourth highest

Montenegro and San Marino are tied with Spain on 19%, while some well-known overweight countries like the UK, France, Germany and Russia were left out of the study of 21 European nations.

A ‘decline’ in the Mediterranean diet, which includes, fish, nuts, olive oil, fruit and vegetables, has been blamed by scientists for the poor results of Spain, Greece and Italy.

Dr João Breda, head of the World Health Organisation’s European office for Prevention and Control of Noncommunicable Diseases, lead the research.

MED DIET: Spain is often lauded for its cuisine which is rich in olive oil, fruit and vegetables

He said: “The loss of the Mediterranean diet in southern European countries could be linked to this severe obesity problem.

“Without timely, appropriate and effective policy measures to prevent obesity, there is a risk that prevalence rates in these countries will eventually match the levels seen in other European countries.”

Data for 636,933 six-to-nine-year-olds was analysed, indicating that there are 400,000 obese children of this age group, out of the 13.7 million children who reside in the 21 countries studied.

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