Spaniards are not as healthy as they think

Emma Anderson
Emma Anderson - [email protected]
Spaniards are not as healthy as they think
People eating tapas in Madrid. Photo: Gerard Julien / AFP.

Despite seldom eating breakfast, sleeping very little and eating too much red meat, seven out of ten Spaniards consider their habits to be totally healthy. New research begs to differ.


They may serve up some of the best food in the world, but Spaniards still don't quite know how to eat, a new study says.

Seven out of ten Spaniards may think they are eating right, but most are actually not dishing up their recommended helpings of fruits, veggies and fish, according to a study by Nestlé released last week.

One out of six people skipped at least one of the three main meals of the day. Another 70 percent do not eat the five recommended mid-sized meals they should each day - breakfast, a mid-morning snack, lunch, an afternoon snack and dinner. 

Another 90 percent did not eat a proper breakfast or did not eat breakfast at all.

"The results show that there are significant differences between perception and the reality of our nutritional habits," the study said.

And looking at what kinds of food Spaniards consumed also showed a difference between how much they thought they were eating and how much they actually were.

The vast majority of Spaniards said they drank sufficient water each day, but the study showed that only 21 percent were actually gulping down the recommended eight glasses of water a day. In reality, Spaniards drank on average about five glasses of water per day.

And Spaniards were also eating much more red meat than they should. One serving of red meat a week is considered the healthy amount, but Spaniards were consuming more than twice that amount at 2.5 portions per week on average.

Unhealthy habits

Beyond eating habits, Spaniards had some other not so healthy tendencies. Although overall the Spanish passed the test when it came to exercise, with more than 60 percent engaging in physical activity other than walking, more than 40 percent of women don't do any form of regular exercise.

Spaniards also failed to make the mark when it came to sleep habits with more than a quarter saying they slept less than seven hours at night.

Additionally, 83 percent used electronic devices before bedtime instead of doing something like reading or listening to music that better prepares the body for restful sleep.

Making 'all kinds of excuses'

Spaniards gave a lot of reasons to explain why they didn't eat what they should, ranging from 'I don't have good food at home' to 'I forgot' to 'I'm lazy'.

"The Spanish make all kinds of excuses for why we do not eat well," the report said.

For fish, of which only 30 percent of respondents ate the recommended three to four weekly servings, most said they did not eat enough due to the price.

The main reason given for not getting enough sleep was not having the time or being stressed (39 percent). Another reason was that people said they had trouble falling or staying asleep (29 percent).

But having not so healthy habits hasn't stopped Spaniards from living long, full lives. Another study in April showed that Spain had the highest life expectancy in Europe while Spanish women were found to be the second-longest living in the entire world in a separate study last year.

Still, this could change if World Health Organization predictions comes true that over half of Spaniards will be overweight by 2030.



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