Nearly four in 10 Spanish adults are clinically overweight, with the highest numbers of obese people living in the far south and far north, according to research by the Spanish Cardiology Society (SEC).
Andalucía, Galicia and Asturias have more overweight residents than anywhere else in Spain, and the slimmest inhabitants are found in the Balearic Islands, Catalunya and the Basque Country.
The over-25s, up to State pension age are, in 39.3% of cases, considered medically overweight, with 21.6% of this age group – more than one in five – being clinically obese.
This rises to a quarter of the adult population in the three worst-affected regions.
Asturias has the most obese inhabitants: 41.1% are above the normal weight range for their age, sex and height, and 25.7% are dangerously fat.
But overweight residents in general are more likely to be seen in Galicia: a total of 43.5% of adults are too heavy, and 24.9% clinically obese.
In Andalucía, the totals are 38.9% and 24.4% respectively.
Balearic Islanders are overweight in 32.2% of cases, and just over one in 10 are obese – the lowest figures in the country.
Catalunya has more overweight inhabitants even than Andalucía and nearly as many as Asturias, at 39.8%, but fewer people who suffer from obesity, at 15.5%.
The Basque Country has the second-fewest number of overweight residents at 33.9%, and the third-fewest who are clinically obese, at 16.8%.
Men are more likely to be overweight or obese than women, the SEC study reveals.
The rise in obesity and excess weight in general in the western world is becoming a grave concern, the SEC says, given that too-high levels of body fat are among the primary causes of several types of cancer, heart conditions, stroke risk and Type II diabetes.
According to the SEC and despite recent conflicting studies, body-mass index, or BMI, continues to be a benchmark for ideal weight.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) considers a BMI of 25 or more to be ‘overweight’ and 30 or more ‘obese’.
BMI is measured by taking the height in metres with decimal points – for example, 5’5” is 165 centimetres, or 1.65 metres – and squaring it, then dividing the body weight in kilos by this figure.
For example, a woman of 5’4” (1.63 metres) is considered a ‘normal’ or ‘healthy’ weight at between 7st 7lb and 10st 7lb (49.4 and 66.5 kilos), but ‘overweight’ from the top figure of this range through to 12st 7lb (79.4 kilos), after which she is ‘clinically obese’.
A man of 5’10” (1.78 metres) is within the ‘normal’ weight range from 59 kilos, or 9st 4lb, through to 79.4 kilos or 12st 7lb, after which he is considered ‘overweight’, and from 15st or 95.3 kilos is ‘clinically obese’.
The SEC urges everyone to try to eat a healthy, balanced diet with the right quantities of vitamins, minerals, unsaturated fat, complex carbohydrates and protein, and to keep active for a total of half an hour a day as a minimum – even if this is just through housework, walking to the shops or gardening.