There are now proportionately more obese children in Spain than in the U.S., according to a new Spanish study conducted among 2,000 people over the last five years.

Based on international standards, 26.1 percent of the Spanish children up to the age of 18 are overweight. Another 19.1 percent of the children are obese, compared with 16 percent in the U.S.

The numbers for Spain are three times higher than 30 years ago. On the other hand, the rate of obesity in the U.S. has been declining for the first time in many years.

The tally is even worse among adult people in Spain, a country where only 43 percent of the population is practicing physical activities on a regular basis. An estimated 38.7 percent of Spanish adults are overweight, and 14.5 percent are obese, the recent study revealed.

The promotion of greater sports participation among children will have to be one of the tasks of the new appointed minister of education, culture and sports, José Ignacio Wert, in the government of Mariano Rajoy. A socialist, Wert has been president of various market research institutes.

He will also have to deal with Madrid's ambitious bid to host the Olympic Games in 2020.

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