Belly fat putting Spanish children at risk

Childhood abdominal obesity is a serious problem in Spain and one that is going largely undetected, a new study shows.

Belly fat putting Spanish children at risk
Young people with high belly fat are at increased risk of cardiovascular disease although they are not actually overweight. File photo: Gaulsstin/Flickr

A total of 21.3 percent of children aged six to 11 in Spain are suffering from abdominal obesity while this figure is 14.3 percent for adolescents aged 12 to 17.

That's the finding of Spain's first study into the problem of belly fat conducted by Barcelona's IMIM institute.

These young people are at higher risk of cardiovascular disease and premature mortality as adults although they are not actually overweight, said the authors of the study published in PLOS ONE.

Researchers looked at data from 1,521 young people across Spain to get their results, measuring their waist-to-height ratio as a neutral indicator. 

"Our results indicate the need to incorporate waist circumference into routine clinical practice, in addition to traditional measurements of weight and height," the scientists concluded.

Only in this way can real health risks be determined, they added.

Don't miss stories about Spain, join The Local on Facebook and Twitter.

Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.


4 in 5 Spanish men will be overweight by 2030: WHO

Shift from Mediterranean diet to fast food will result in 80 percent of Spanish men and 55 percent of women being overweight by 2030, the World Health Organisation has warned.

4 in 5 Spanish men will be overweight by 2030: WHO
Photo of overweight men: Shutterstock

Spaniards are packing on the kilos at an alarming rate.

That’s according to an investigation by the country’s Mar de Barcelona hospital –backed up by the World Health Organisation – which found that 80 percent of Spanish men and 55 percent of women will be overweight by 2030 if current trends continue.

According to their data this will mean that 27 million people in Spain will be overweight in 11 years time, representing a hefty €3 billion bill for the country’s public health system.

The news comes just months after another study by the US’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation claimed Spaniards will have the longest life expectancy in the world by 2040, largely thanks to the health benefits of their famed Mediterranean diet.

The American institution’s findings clash with those published in the Spanish Cardiology Magazine this week, as the latter suggest there is a growing shift among the Spanish population towards eating foods made up of processed fats and sugars rather than the traditional fruit and veg found in Spanish cuisine.

“There are currently 25 million people in Spain who are overweight, three million more than a decade ago,” Dr Albert Goday, one of the authors of the study, said of his team's findings.

“That means that conservatively there will be three million more (16 percent) by 2030 if the trend continues.”

“In men excess weight is more common up to the age of 50 whereas from 50 onward obesity rises more among women due our hormonal metabolisms.”

Researchers used data from 300,000 people’s BMI between 1987 and 2014 to conduct the study and make their estimations.

Adult Body Mass Index (BMI), a person's weight in kilograms divided by the square of height in metres, will classify someone as overweight is it’s between 25 and 30, and obese if it’s over 30.

Being overweight can result in a higher risk of suffering diabetes, hypertension, strokes, cancer and heart attacks.

SEE ALSO: Canary Island schools offer free fruit to kids to fight obesity