The old cliché of the healthy Mediterranean diet is alive and kicking in Spain, where people eat the least amount of fast food in Europe, according to a new study.
After Italy, Spain spends the least on fast food of all the major industrialized economies in the world - €1.98 billion in 2014, which works out at a mere €43 ($47) per Spaniard, per year.
Walk around many Spanish towns and cities and the idea of take-away food is still relatively novel - many Spaniards still prefer to sit down to a proper lunch and would balk at the idea of eating at their desks; a common occurrence in many other industrialized countries.
Spain is far behind the countries at the top of the list, Japan and the United States, which spend around five times the amount on fast food than Spain.
But Spain should not congratulate itself too quickly. Despite being one of nations that eats the least fast food, sales are rising year on year.
According to the report, Expenditure on Fast Food 2015, carried out by the EAE Business School, fast food revenues have increased by six percent year on year since 2013.
Tourist resorts lead the way
The regions that spent the most on fast food per capita in 2014 were the Balearic Islands, the Canary Islands and Madrid - the big tourist resorts of Spain’s island getaways containing dozens of fast food establishments.
The Balearic Islands - Mallorca, Menorca and Ibiza - spend double the Spanish average on fast food per year.
McDonald’s dominates the Spanish market with a 40 percent market share, followed by Burger King, Pans & Co, Rodilla and KFC.
Spain’s diet: under threat?
The report emphasizes the positive effect such a boom in the sector will have on the industry.
"The forecasts are positive as it is predicted that, over the next five years, the recovery that started in 2014 is going to stabilize and reach positive figures that have not been seen since the start of the recession in 2008," said Marta Riera, the author of the report.
While it could be great news for Spain’s economy, it is bad news for Spaniards' waistlines.
Spain’s famous healthy Mediterranean diet could be under threat from the increasing dominance of fast food, which, according to the report will only become more pronounced over the next five years.
According to the report expenditure on fast food in Spain will rise to reach €2.9 billion in 2019, an increase of almost 50 percent from the revenue generated in 2014.
In 2016, Spaniards are expected to spend €63.77 on fast food, an increase of 49.65 percent in two years.