MADRID — Two hundred overweight Spanish children are to be taught to eat properly and in order to emerge slimmer and happier from a syndrome known as "the 21st century epidemic".
The children, aged 13 to 16, form part of the burgeoning population of obese youngsters.
One out of four males and one out of five females are said to be obese or overweight.
Those statistics place the Iberian nation at the fore - behind only Britain - of European countries dealing with unhealthily chubby or fat children.
...."The whole society is implicated," said Navarre University nutritionist Amelia Marti del Moral, one of the programme's experts.
"Fashion, television and other media, misleading advertisement and the accelerated pace of life that leaves parents with no time to teach their kids good eating habits and often makes them simply give the child what he or she asks for."
The lifestyle factor is the framework within which so many young people these days eat so much junk food - french fries and hamburgers, mass-produced pastries, candy and soft drinks, Marti said.
She told EFE that the problem is not limited to what children eat, but also includes how the food is ingested.
She said among the bad habits are excessive snacking, eating too fast, by oneself, and even in hiding.
Marti said children would be better off if they ate more of what for centuries was a big part of the traditional Spanish diet - potages, or thick vegetable-based soups she said "have great hunger-satisfying capacity".