The Consumers and Users Organization in collaboration with associations of the group Euroconsumers has undertaken a survey to know the eating habits of the citizens of Spain, Italy, Belgium and Portugal, to determine the frequency of consumption of different types of food and the impact of diet and physical activity on health, weight and wellbeing. 11,947 responses were obtained, of which 3986 are data of Spanish adults (18 to 74 years) and adolescents (13 to 17 years). The results of this study have been published in our magazine OCU Compra Maestra for the month of September.
According to the survey by the OCU, the majority of Spaniards (54%) recognizes that does not follow a balanced diet. According to the answers of our respondents, in our menu, vegetables and fruits scarce, in addition to foods rich in complex carbohydrates (bread, pasta, rice, etc..), Dairy products, vegetables, water and olive oil. On the contrary, it abuses protein sources, especially meat and less fish and eggs.
38% of respondents did not take a serving of vegetables a day.
30% of adults and 47% of adolescents do not eat fruit daily.
66% of Spaniards consume less than 4 servings daily of foods rich in complex carbohydrates (pasta, rice, potatoes) when it should be between 4 and 6.
In 34% of the dishes, table salt is present, although the dishes are spicy.
27% of adults said drinking wine or beer every day.
28% of adolescents indicated taking fast food at least once a week.
And finally 59% of the population tends to snack in front of the television. The snack is dangerous depending in the type and quantity of food consumed (usually rich in fats and sugars).
This power clearly unbalanced and far from our traditional Mediterranean diet, is accompanied by a generally sedentary lifestyle. 70% of adults and 55% of teenagers does not spend half an hour or a day to the practice of physical exercise (walking, running, swimming, riding a bike, etc.). And worse, 25% of adults do not make any physical activity.
The unbalanced diet and lack of exercise have a direct effect on our weight. Drawing on the Body Mass Index (BMI = weight (kg) / height (in meters squared)] of our respondents, the majority of adults (51%) are overweight or obese (BMI above 25). 13% of adolescents have problems of overweight and 4% have problems of obesity (BMI greater than 30). Only 38% of adult men have a normal weight (a BMI between 20 and 25).
OCU's study has revealed that while more weight, less health. The higher the BMI, the greater the number of chronic illnesses and doctor visits. This fact clearly shows that obesity is a risk factor for our health and has a particular impact on chronic diseases such as hypertension, cardiovascular problems or diabetes.
But obesity and overweight not only affect our physical health, also impact on our social and psychological life. In fact only 1 out of every four adults are satisfied with their weight and about teenagers there are more girls (45%) than boys (27%) who think are overweight when in fact they are not, only 11% of teenage girls are overweight.
Finally, the OCU has made a series of questions to determine the potential risk of suffering some type of food and the results are alarming. Among, adults 1 in five women and 1 in 8 men could suffer such a disorder. Among adolescents is increasing at a frightening proportion, 1 in 4 girls and 1 in 7 kids is at risk. One last fact, almost 2% of the respondents (more girls than boys) showed symptoms of anorexia.
This survey is part of activities related to Weight and Health, a priority topic for the OCU in 2006, for their enormous gravity and importance in our society and that the association has devoted great efforts during this year.
Given the results of this study and the severity of the problem, the OCU has been directed to health authorities, requesting a substantial increase of effort devoted to the promotion of a balanced diet and lifestyle healthy.