Spain is getting closer to a very risky situation: In 2035, more than 37% of adult Spaniards will be overweight. A problem that science asks to recognise as a disease, but a stigma that the care itself is guilty of.
Science has been asking for years for obesity to be recognised as a chronic disease. Despite this, in many cases the patient himself is to blame. There is a taboo on this disease and, according to the Spanish association that studies obesity (Seedo), we must change the picture: “It is a disease in itself, complex, chronic and often has more than one cause.”
World Obesity Day on March 4
It’s not just a matter of eating too much and exercising too little. That being overweight equals gluttony, laziness and a lack of willpower is so firmly established in society. However, there are also other factors such as stress, lack of sleep and mental problems that can cause abnormal or excessive fat accumulation in the body.
Partly because of this, associations want to change society’s view on obesity. Moreover, one of the resources for this is World Obesity Day, which falls on Saturday, March 4 this year. The slogan ‘Changing perspectives: let’s talk about obesity’ aims to eliminate the misconceptions and stigma associated with this disease.
Healthcare professionals themselves are also guilty
Not only society is guilty of this image of overweight. The WHO showed that overweight children, but also adults, are more often bullied. This approach has spread even further, including even to the healthcare sector. Many professionals themselves are the cause that obese people do not dare to ask doctors for help. It is often advised to eat better and exercise more and the true cause of overweight in that specific person is not sufficiently investigated. Moreover, there are medicines against obesity, but these are only reimbursed for diabetics. This form of discrimination is the reason that many patients turn to the Internet or other home remedies, with all the consequences for their health.
Handful of hospitals in Spain understand multidisciplinary approach to obesity
Not all healthcare institutions deal with obesity in this way. For example, the Infanta Leonor hospital in Madrid is one of three hospitals in Spain that offer nutrition workshops. This is mainly people who are aware that they eat too much or too little at certain times for emotional reasons. Psychological help is needed to understand why people binge eat. If people are aware of this, the patient can change things so that this behaviour does not occur in the future.
Although there are now three hospitals that offer this type of help, psychological support should be an integral part of a multidisciplinary approach to obesity, reports the Spanish association that studies obesity. Consequently, this is one of the issues we will be discussing on World Obesity Day.
Some figures on obesity among adults and children
Worldwide, nearly 2 billion people are obese. That is three times as many as in 1975. The WHO estimates that in 2035 one in four people in the world will be obese. In the same year, according to the Global Obesity Observatory, 37.8% of Spaniards will be overweight and 16% will be obese. Furthermore, the figures among children are not much more optimistic: The percentage of overweight children is currently at 21.6% and 11.8% of Spanish children have been diagnosed with obesity.