Childhood obesity rise as more prefer TV to exercise
Proportion of children with weight problems grew two percentage points from 2003 to 2007, says national survey.5 May 2008
MADRID - More than 30 percent of children between two and 14 years of age are overweight and sedentary, according to the National Health Survey, which shows that the proportion of children with weight problems grew two percentage points from 2003 to 2007.
Of these, around 20 percent spend more time in front of the television set or playing videogames than playing sports, said the families who completed the survey.
While the number of children with reported excess weight in Spain rose from 17.5 percent to 18.5 percent, obesity rates went up from 11.2 percent to 11.9 percent.
The reality could be worse, since everyone tends to think that they are "taller and thinner" than they really are, said Javier Aranceta, president of the Spanish Association of Community Nutrition (SENC).
While there is only a one-percent rate of morbid obesity among children, "we are starting to see more cases," Aranceta said.
Experts blame the rise on bad eating habits, lack of physical exercise, an unfavourable socio-economic environment and genetics, although this latter cause only accounts for 20 percent of weight problem cases.
These figures put Spain among the European Union's list of top three countries with the highest rate of child obesity, "although we are still in a situation that is favourable to change," said Aranceta.
One of the reasons for child obesity, he said, is that "it is easier and cheaper to eat wrong than to eat right."
Excess weight is three times more likely in children from lower-income families, said Aranceta.
[El Pais / Expatica]