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In Spain, 8.4 million adults and 1.5 million children are obese

Obesity is one of the most prevalent and least diagnosed diseases in history that affects 8.4 million adults and 1.5 million children in Spain and by 2030 it is expected to reach 30% of the adult population, according to endocrinologists and heads of hospital obesity units.

At a press conference on the occasion of the launch of Open Spain, a coalition of the global network Open (Obesity Policy Engagement Network), the endocrinologist Susana Monereo stressed that obesity is a “chronic and recurrent disease, which overloads all organs and invades them of fat and is the cause of the most prevalent diseases”, and yet 73% of adults with this disease do not perceive themselves as obese.

This global initiative, to which Spain has joined to give visibility and responses to the obesity crisis, recalls that obesity is associated with more than 200 health problems and, specifically, with diseases such as type 2 diabetes or cancer since it is associated with eleven types, including breast and endometrial cancer in women, and prostate and colon cancer in men. Monereo, who is responsible for the Obesity Unit at the Ruber Internacional hospital (Madrid), has also underlined the stigma attached to suffering from this disease and has warned of its “unstoppable” growth, which will require many more financial resources.

Today, the extra cost that obesity entails for the National Health System is 2,000 million euros, and it is estimated that it will exceed 3,000 million in 2030. In addition, it implies a decrease in labor productivity in 479,000 workers per year. Dr. Antonio José Torres, medical director of the Multidisciplinary Treatment Unit for Obesity at the Madrid Montepríncipe Hospital (Madrid), has also emphasized the need to make political powers and civil society aware of a problem that affects a large number of people. “huge” number of patients in Spain, almost ten million and increasing.

Torres has opted for the importance of resorting to pharmacological treatments or surgery, and has recalled that in Spain with 400,000 patients with morbid obesity, only less than 3% undergo surgery and around 10,000 are on the waiting list . Meanwhile, Dr. Felipe Casanueva, head of the obesity unit at HM hospitals in Galicia, stated that the main barrier is that society is not aware of the importance of a “serious, chronic and multifactorial” disease. “What would happen if when the covid pandemic began there were 8.4 million inhabitants infected at the same time and without vaccines?” This specialist pointed out to show the volume of a pathology that, however, has not yet convinced of its gravity yet neither to administrators nor to society in general.

Casanueva has warned that if obesity continues to grow in this way it can “destroy the Spanish health system, universal and free.” This expert has placed obesity as a “health emergency” problem that doctors alone cannot tackle and has appealed to politicians to take up the problem, incorporate it into their government programs and Congress to draw up a national obesity prevention program the disease, transversal and multiparty, that is supported by the unanimity of the parliamentary arch.

For Casanueva, “until all of society is involved, politicians, administrators, doctors, mayors… we will not be able to combat the problem.” And he has insisted that, currently, obesity is the only serious disease in Spain whose pharmacological and medical treatments are not financed by public health, which is “a great anomaly”.

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