40.6% of Spanish children from 6 to 9 years old are overweight: 23.3% are overweight and 17.3% are obese. Furthermore, among the latter, 4.2% are cases of severe obesity. These are the data that emerge from the Aladino 2019 study, conducted among 16,665 schoolchildren between these ages, and presented yesterday by the Minister of Consumption, Alberto Garzón.
Beyond the fact that the proportion of children outside normal weight has decreased by 3.2% compared to the period 2011-2015, when the last study was published, this year’s edition shows that “the prevalence of childhood overweight continues to be more high in Spain than in the countries in the same area, “said Marta García Pérez, executive director of the Spanish Agency for Food Safety and Nutrition (Aecosan), during the same event.
Among the causes for these high rates of overweight Among the minors, Garzón highlighted the socioeconomic aspects, since 23.2% of the children of families with low incomes – less than 18,000 euros gross per year – suffer obesity, for only 11.9% in the case of those with low incomes. families with incomes greater than 30,000 euros gross per year.
Among the most disadvantaged “there is less adherence to the Mediterranean diet, more visits to fast food restaurants and more sweets are consumed,” said Minister Garzón.
For Dr. Fernando Rodríguez Artalejo, president of the Observatory of Nutrition and the Study of Obesity, dependent on the Aecosan, the poor quality of the diet and the sedentary lifestyle among the smallest are at the base of the problem. According to Aladino’s data, “only 45% of the children eat vegetables every day or most of the days,” explained Rodríguez Artalejo. In the case of fruit, this figure rises to 70%, although only 20.1% of schoolchildren eat it during breakfast, while foods that should be occasional, such as cookies, cakes, pastries, smoothies, nectars and sweets are consumed even four or more times a week, in a 60% percentage of children.
Another fact that Aladino has revealed is that children’s leisure is increasingly sedentary. There is a notable increase in the percentage of children who spend more than three hours a day in sedentary leisure such as watching television or video games. The percentage of girls who practice hours of physical activity increases slightly, but is still lower than that of boys, which has not improved compared to previous editions of the report. In general, a third of the child population does not do an hour of intense physical activity a day, and in contrast there is the same proportion of young people who dedicate three hours or more to sedentary leisure.
On the other hand, the study shows that parents of overweight minors also do not perceive the problem, and frequently consider their children’s weight as normal or only slightly overweight. 88.6% of parents of overweight schoolchildren do not perceive it as such. The figure stands at 42.7% when it comes to obesity and 19.1% when the child suffers from severe obesity. The conclusion is that 76.2% of schoolchildren should improve their diet.
In this sense, both Garzón and Rodríguez Artalejo trust that Nutriscore, the food nutritional information system that has recently been launched, will help families make better food choices, since for example “it allows them to know what cookies have less sugar ”, explained the doctor.
To try to improve the situation of childhood obesity in Spain, Garzón announced that measures such as increasing the taxation of sugary drinks will be studied, in addition to information campaigns, meetings and actions with the agents involved and the involvement of the High Commissioner for the fight against child poverty.
For his part, Rodríguez Artalejo said that the free distribution of fruit in schools would continue, since “its intake replaces the unhealthy sugars that children eat in the morning”, and recalled that Spanish schoolchildren eat less fruit and vegetables than their peers from more northern countries.