The Spanish town of Narón last year launched a pioneering healthy lifestyle initiative to help its nearly 40,000 residents shed a collective 100,000 kilos over a two-year period.
So far, it’s working, as the Galician town has lost over 46,000 kilos over the past year.
The health authorities Narón, in the northwest of Spain, decided in 2018 that its residents could share a common goal of shedding 100,000 kilos through healthy eating, exercise and medical monitoring.
Carlos Piñeiro, the doctor responsible for the project, told Euronews that the participants have met half of the objectives and are now looking to expand the number of participants beyond the 7,200 officially registered.
Restaurants have been doing their bit to help by offering lighter menus, while schools have been teaching children how to educate their families about healthy habits.
Piñeiro told Euronews about a group of grandparents who were wondering what children were being taught in schools because their grandchildren were refusing to eat chips.
“The children of Narón are researchers of their environment about what type of diet fits their family and how much they are able to walk,” said the doctor.
Among adults, the results of their neighbours is also becoming a motivating factor.
“There is an attraction effect,” Piñeiro said.
‘Hospital admissions down 48%’
Obesity in the region of Galicia affects 19.18% of the population, which is above the Spanish average of 17.03%, according to the Galician Institute of Statistics.
In Narón, some 3,000 are obese, according to Piñeiro.
“Our town had a rate among the lowest in Galicia, but Galicia still has a very high rate of obesity,” he said.
The doctor has insisted that the goal of the programme is not to lose weight but to promote a healthier lifestyle.
Piñeiro said participants should not lose more than 5% of their weight for health reasons, but that “curiously that number is being overcome” because “they are taking to the dieting with rigor and seriousness.”
The group the challenge has had the biggest positive impact on appears to be the elderly.
Composed of 276 elderly participants, the town’s hospital admissions have been reduced by 48% over the last year.
Piñeiro explained that this group follows a rigorous plan of activities such as dance and therapeutic gymnastics, swimming every two days and completing 8 kilometres of daily walks.
Aspiring to be the European capital of the Atlantic diet
The traditional gastronomy of Narón, the Atlantic diet, is one of the bases of the project.
Medical personnel are promoting healthy eating among their patients, while the diet is also being supported by local producers and shellfish farmers.
On the shores of the Atlantic Ocean, the diet includes a variety of fish and seafood such as clams, hake, turbot, oysters and barnacles.
Piñeiro said some chefs are even producing lighter, healthier versions of traditional high-calorie dishes.
“The objective is to be the European gastronomic capital of the Atlantic diet,” Piñeiro explained.
Beyond the figures on the scale, Piñeiro said the most positive thing is that the people of Narón are feeling proud of what they have accomplished so far.