More than 47 percent of Spanish people aged from 18 to 64 are overweight or obese, according to figures from a study on weight in the country’s capital.
A fifth of Spanish 15 to 16-year-old men weigh above the average, with the figure for girls of the same age at around 11 percent. The number of overweight girls has almost doubled since 1996.
Figures for Madrid showed the number of overweight people living in the capital was around the average for the rest of Spain.
The highest levels of obesity are in Andalucia, Asturias and Galicia, while the Balearic Islands, Catalonia and the Basque Country have some of the lowest.
The figures come from a General Directorate of Public Health study published last week on the health of people in Madrid in 2016 based on data from 2015.
Miguel Angel Royo, a nutrition and public health researcher, said obesity could lead to the development of diabetes, cancer and heart problems in affected people.
“All people have an individual responsibility, but in our society the ability to choose a healthy diet at an affordable price is complicated,” he said.
The study stated a lack of exercise, as well as a poor diet with too much meat and not enough fruit and vegetables, were factors influencing the problem.
The data also suggested that one in three young people have tried some kind of weight loss diet. Around 11 percent of the same group displayed behaviour related to eating disorders such as 24-hour fasts, making themselves vomit and taking laxatives and diet pills.
Royo said clamping down on access to junk food, particularly in and around health centres, simplifying information on food packaging and regulating its advertising could help tackle the problem.
“Having junk food vending machines in health centres is like when you were able to smoke in hospitals,” he said.