A survey by Ecuador’s Ministry of Health shows that 5.5 million Ecuadorians are overweight. The National Health and Nutrition Survey, conducted during 2013, reported that the country consumes carbohydrates — mostly in the form of sugar, potatoes and rice — in excess. Processed and fast food and lack of physical activity are also to blame, the survey says.
Ecuador ranks in the middle of Latin American countries in the percentage of overweight and obese citizens, according to the World Health Organziation. It ranks far behind Mexico and the U.S. among western hemisphere countries in those categories. Within the last year, Mexico overtook the U.S. as the fattest country in the Americas.
The survey indicates that Ecuadorian children and adolescents are increasingly at risk for obesity, with 29.9% of children in the 5 to 11 year-old category and 26% of adolescents aged 12 to 19 years, falling into the overweight category.
Overall, the survey said that Ecuadorians, in general, are getting heavier and that nationwide efforts should be made to reverse the trend.
In addition to dietary factors, the survey said that lack of physical activity was a major contributor to weight gain. “Children and adolescents are spending less time in physical activities and more time in front of computer screens and cell phones,” the survey said.
Among Ecuador’s provinces, the Galapagos was the most overweight followed by Azuay, Carchi and El Oro.