The Spanish town that wants to shed 100,000 kilos

September 27, 2018 by Laurence Boutreux
Carlos Pineiro (L), a 63-year-old family doctor, is behind a programme for residents in the small Spanish town of Naron to lose 100,000 kilos (220,500 pounds) by early 2020

In a remote corner of northwestern Spain, a small town has set itself the ultimate weight loss challenge: by early 2020, its residents must shed 100,000 kilos (220,500 pounds).

Gone are bacon and fried calamari from the diets of thousands of residents in Naron who are taking to sport again as part of a slimming programme that kicked off in January.

"In the 21st century, people forget they're made to walk," says Carlos Pineiro, the 63-year-old family doctor behind the programme, which has the support of the town council.

No more tripe

Pineiro often swaps his practice for the local wooded park where he helps dozens of others warm up and exercise.

Conrado Vilela Villamar, a 65-year-old former crane operator, is one of Pineiro's regulars.

"In Spain where people say that you can eat everything in the pig, from the tip of the tail to the tip of the nose, the first food I stripped from my diet are tripe, pork belly and cold cuts," he says.

Perched on the Atlantic coast of the Galicia region, the 40,000-strong town counts 9,000 overweight residents and another 3,000 who suffer from obesity, Pineiro says.

Known for its gastronomy and often gargantuan dishes, Galicia is the region in Spain with the most overweight people, according to a study by the Spanish Society of Cardiology.

The 40,000-strong town of Naron counts 9,000 overweight residents and another 3,000 who suffer from obesity, says family doctor Carlos Pineiro who is behind the town's weight loss scheme
"The rainy weather means people stay at home a lot with a very big daily ingestion of calories," says Pineiro.

More than 4,000 residents—or a tenth of the population—have joined the project.

To show their support, the mayor, Marian Ferreiro, and her municipal councillors weighed themselves together in public on giant scales.

The programme, drawn up by local doctors, offers personalised diets and physical activity adapted to those who adhere.

Every now and then, they come to the town's health centres to weigh themselves.

"I walk with friends including a woman who is 80 or so, who holds on to my arm," says Maria Teresa Rodriguez, 55.

One of the ways in which pupils at the Jorge Juan school in Naron are being encouraged to live a healthy lifestyle is the "I pedal while reading" scheme
"In March, I weighed 82 kilos, now 70," she adds, beaming, standing on the scales.

Every day, she walks or does gymnastics for an hour and a half, and has started dancing on Fridays since her "legs no longer hurt."

In the town, 18 restaurants now offer healthier dishes by promoting an Atlantic-style diet full of seafood.

"I replace salt with algae, fish infusions or a simple dehydrated mussel, and butter with ," says Diego Platas, a 37-year-old restaurant owner as he cooks a local mackerel.

'I pedal while reading'

Earlier this month, the World Health Organization warned that obesity and the growing proportion of people who are overweight risked reversing the general trend of rising life expectancy in Europe.

Diego Platas is the 37-year-old owner of a restaurant, among Naron's eateries now offering a healthier menu

In Spain, the topic regularly comes up.

An interview with a 34-year-old patient in eastern Spain who weighs 385 kilos recently made headlines.

"It's not at all easy to convince adults" to change their lifestyle, says Pineiro, whose own family history has been blighted by genetic cardiovascular illness, albeit not linked to weight.

"Some say: 'the last thing I need is for the doctor to tell me what I must do'."

He is more hopeful that children will catch on.

At the Jorge Juan school in Naron, for instance, pupils are being encouraged to live a healthy lifestyle in a pilot programme in the town.

More than 4,000 residents—or a tenth of Naron's population—has joined the weight loss project

During recess, "we go out to the seaside promenade" with the youngsters, says Maria Jose Cazorla, a 55-year-old teacher, who has lost 14 kilos in a year.

The school's 224 students are given the option of doing sport for one hour every day and those who are reticent can ride an exercise bike for an activity called "I pedal while reading."

Those who live nearby are encouraged to walk or cycle to school, or ride scooters, wearing special electronic bracelets that let parents know when they have arrived.

The slogan "get addicted to fruit" adorns the walls of the school where fruit is given out every morning.

But "we don't ever talk about weight directly" to the children, which "would have a stigmatising effect," says Pineiro.

Beyond the 100,000-kilo weight loss challenge, he hopes residents will adopt "a to put a brake on chronic illness", which would also reduce health spending.

The programme is drawn up by local doctors and offers personalised diets and physical activity. Occasionally, adherents come to the town's health centres to weigh themselves

Explore further: Think e-bikes are cheating? Think again

Related Stories

Think e-bikes are cheating? Think again

September 25, 2018
Local charity Life Cycle has been supporting Bristol residents to cycle for many years, teaching them the skills and confidence they need to get cycling. In a move to help even more people get on bikes, Life Cycle teamed ...

Overweight pregnant women can safely cut calories, restrict weight gain

September 24, 2018
Being obese or overweight during pregnancy can result in serious health problems for the mother and child. Obstetricians are often reluctant to recommend restricted weight gain for pregnant women due to safety concerns for ...

Onetime 'world's heaviest man' has second surgery in Mexico

November 24, 2017
A Mexican once certified as the heaviest man in the world is recovering from a second stomach-reduction surgery that doctors hope will help him shed more than 200 kilograms (440 pounds), the medical center treating him reported ...

Dubai dishes out gold awards to weight losers (Update)

November 8, 2013
Dubai municipality has dished out 2.8 million dirhams ($762,942) worth of gold in prizes to contestants in a weight-loss challenge, an initiative by the Gulf emirate to fight obesity.

Small changes can go far in preventing childhood obesity

July 26, 2018
In the United States, the percentage of children and adolescents with obesity has more than tripled since 1970. Today, approximately one in five school-aged children (ages 6 to 19) is obese, according to the Centers for Disease ...

Weight-loss surgery alone won't keep the pounds off

January 30, 2018
(HealthDay)—If you think your battle against obesity ends on the operating table, you're mistaken.

Recommended for you

Obesity linked to increased risk of early-onset colorectal cancer

October 12, 2018
Women who are overweight or obese have up to twice the risk of developing colorectal cancer before age 50 as women who have what is considered a normal body mass index (BMI), according to new research led by Washington University ...

The metabolome: A way to measure obesity and health beyond BMI

October 11, 2018
The link between obesity and health problems may seem apparent. People who are obese are at higher risk of type 2 diabetes, liver disease, cancer, and heart disease. But increasingly, researchers are learning that the connection ...

Being overweight or obese in your 20s will take years off your life, according to a new report

October 10, 2018
Young adults classified as obese in Australia can expect to lose up to 10 years in life expectancy, according to a major new study.New modelling from The George Institute for Global Health and the University of Sydney also ...

Asthma may contribute to childhood obesity epidemic

October 9, 2018
Toddlers with asthma are more likely to become obese children, according to an international study led by USC scientists.

'Genes are not destiny' when it comes to weight

October 9, 2018
A healthy home environment could help offset children's genetic susceptibilities to obesity, according to new research led by UCL.

What did americans eat today? A third would say fast food

October 3, 2018
(HealthDay)—Americans' love affair with fast food continues, with 1 in every 3 adults chowing down on the fare on any given day.


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.