The obesity epidemic has been on the rise for years, with cases nearly tripling since 1975, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). And the outlook for the future is equally bleak – and that includes Spain, a country that is famed for the positive effects of its supposedly Mediterranean diet.
An investigation by the Mar de Barcelona hospital has found that 80% of men and 55% of women will be overweight by 2030. If the current trend continues, the researchers write, within 11 years more than 27 million people in Spain will be overweight.
Being overweight can mean a higher risk of suffering a number of diseases, including diabetes, hypertension, stroke and cancer
The study, published in the Spanish Cardiology Magazine, points out that this epidemic will mean costs of €3 billion for the country’s health system.
The issue, the experts state, is not an esthetic one, but rather a question of health. Being overweight can mean a higher risk of suffering a number of diseases, including diabetes, hypertension, stroke, cancer and other cardiovascular conditions.
Researchers at the Barcelona hospital revised all of the scientific literature published in Spain on epidemiology and the prevalence of obesity and excess weight between 1987 and 2014 in order to come up with an accurate picture of the state of the country’s residents. “We found the trends and we cross-referenced them with data covering the general population from the National Statistics Institute in order to estimate the figures of obesity and excess weight,” explains Álvaro Hernáez, the chief researcher on the project. The results revealed an “alarming future.”
There are currently 25 million people with excess weight, three million more than a decade ago
Dr Albert Goday, author of the study
“There are currently 25 million people with excess weight, three million more than a decade ago,” explains Dr Albert Goday, another author of the study. “In a conservative scenario, if this trend continues, there will be another three million more – 16% more cases – by 2030.”
“In men, excess weight is more usual up to the age of 50,” explains Goday. “From 50 onward, obesity rises among women. These are issues that are intrinsically linked to hormonal metabolism. From a certain age, it is harder for women to control their weight.”
The experts argue that any weight loss, no matter how small, reduces the risk of contracting one of the associated illnesses. “We aren’t going to find the key to this or a vaccination overnight,” Goday adds. “But any minor intervention will help to reduce the risk. You might think that you have made a huge effort and have only lost four kilos when you need to lose many more, but you must bear in mind that those four kilos are already reducing the risk.”
English version by Simon Hunter.