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Prevention of overweight and obesity: a Spanish approach

  • Javier Aranceta (a1) (a2), Carmen Pérez-Rodrigo (a1), Lluis Serra-Majem (a3), Diego Bellido (a4), Martín López de la Torre (a5), Xavier Formiguera (a6) and Basilio Moreno (a7)
  • DOI:
  • Published online: 01 October 2007

Obesity is considered a major public health issue in most developed countries nowadays. This paper provides an overview of current population data available in Spain and the approach to develop preventive strategies in the country.


Review of population data available is based on individually measured weight and height as well as determinants. On this basis, the approach used in the country to develop preventive strategies is discussed.


According to the DORICA study, the prevalence of obesity (BMI ≥30 kg m−2) is 15.5% in Spanish adults aged 25–60 years (13.2% in men and 17.5% in women). Obesity rates are higher among women aged 45 years and older, low social class, living in semi-urban places. Population estimates for the prevalence of obesity in Spanish children and young people based on the enKid study are 13.9% for the whole group. In this study, overweight and obesity is related to absence of breastfeeding, low consumption of fruit and vegetables, high consumption of cakes, buns, softdrinks and butchery products, low physical activity levels and a positive association with time spent watching TV.

In 2005, the Spanish Ministry of Health jointly with the Spanish Agency for Food Safety and Nutrition launched the multifaceted NAOS strategy for nutrition, physical activity and the prevention of obesity. The important role of the family and the school setting as well as the responsibility of the Health Administration and Pediatric Care in the prevention of obesity is highlighted in the document. The need for environmental actions is recognised. The PERSEO programme, a multicomponent school-based intervention project is part of the strategy currently in place.


Obesity is a public health issue in Spain. A national multifaceted strategy was launched to counteract the problem. Environmental and policy actions are a priority. Young children and their families are among the main target groups.

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