The Promotion of Well-being through Sporting Activities
New Horizons in the Economics of Sport series
Edited by Plácido Rodríguez, Stefan Késenne and Brad R. Humphreys
Chapter 3: Physical Activity and Obesity in Spain: Evidence from the Spanish National Health Survey
* Jaume García Villar, Sonia Oreffice and Climent Quintana-Domeque 1. INTRODUCTION Obesity has become one of the most important public health concerns around the world as a relevant risk factor for several health problems and chronic diseases, such as heart disease, diabetes, certain cancers, arteriosclerosis or apnea (WHO, 2002). According to the Spanish Ministry of Health (MSC, 2005), in Spain 38.5 per cent of adult individuals are overweight and 14.5 per cent are obese. Moreover, with the exception of the UK, Spain is the European Union country with the highest increases in obesity rates over the last decade (WHO, 2002). In the attempt to reverse this ‘epidemic’ affecting both adults and children, increasing concern and emphasis has been put on the relationship between weight, physical activity and eating habits, which have been studied in the medical and socioeconomic literatures. For instance, Costa-Font and Gil (2008) account for frequency of physical activity and consumption of certain food items in their analysis of how socioeconomic inequalities affect obesity in Spain. Neira and de Onis (2006) refer to both dietary habits and leisure-time activities in their report on the Spanish Ministry of Health prevention plan for obesity. Interestingly, the importance of walking, cycling and using public transportation is found to be negatively related to obesity rates across countries in Europe, the USA and Australia (for example, Bassett et al., 2008). In this study, we examine physical activity and obesity in Spain, and investigate the associations between these anthropometric and lifestyle characteristics, focusing on...
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