• A research by the University of Oviedo analyzes the eating habits of Spaniards

    February 07, 2014

    The work of the researchers from the group of Sociology of Food confirms that we eat outside and that the economic crisis has changed the buying habits of everyday diet.

    According to the study, Spaniards follow a diet rich in fresh produce, which leads us to shop very frequently and in local shops.

    How well do we Spaniards eat? What has been the impact of the economic crisis in our eating habits? What are some of the reasons that make us go on a diet? These are some of the questions answered by the studye titled Hábitos alimentarios de los españoles, conducted by the research group on Sociology of Food of the University of Oviedo. The study, sponsored by CAPSA, has just been published by the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and the Environment.

    The survey conducted to more than 1,500 people throughout the country reveals that Spaniards have a diet rich in fresh produce, which makes us need to buy food very frequently and prefer doing our shopping in local shops. Consumers tend to show a greater degree of trust for this type of commerce than they do towards larger companies. The attachment to local products and the proximity of this type of shops tip the scales in favor of buying food in your neighborhood commerces.

    The economic crisis has left its mark in food habits. The research conducted by the team led by Professor Cecilia Díaz confirms that we now eat outside less frequently and the that those who do so due to their jobs during the week are mainly men. Eating outside retains a clearly social and leisure component and 3 out of 5 people surveyed confirm that they still eat outside during the weekends. Working and study hours force a sizable portion of the population to have lunch at their workplace during the week, and in this group, the number of people who cook their food at home and then bring it to their workplace has increased, especially among students.

    One of the key difference between Spain and the rest of Europe is the schedule. The amount of time alloted to food is greater than in other countries due to the working hours and the social component linked to lunch and dinner. The researchers point out that a change in the schedule from 9 to 5, the most common working hours in other countries, would modify the "nature of main meal that lunch has, transforming both the composition and the social aspect that food has for Spaniards". The increase of single-person homes has also contributed to this social aspect.

    Living on a diet, aesthetics or health

    The research conducted by the Department of Sociology of the University of Oviedo shows that 1 out of 4 Spaniards is on a diet and more than half of them wants to lose weight, while around 30% do it for medical reasons. Diabetes, cholestorl and hypertension are the main illnesses that lead patients to embark on a healthier diet.

    The experts warn that pressure to slim down "may lead to a medicalization of nutrition" that lays the ground for miracle cures, specially if they are backed by specialists in the field of healthcare.

    In general terms, the majority of the population admits to avoid certain foods that they deem unhealthy. This is the case of candies, pre-cooked food, sugary drinks and butter. Nevertheless, this limitation is not applied to bread, potatoes or milk.

    Food crises, such as the Mad Cow Disease or the Cucumber Crisis have taken their toll on cosumers' trust. Nevertheless, scientists, health authorities and consumer associations maintain a high degree of credibility among the population when facing a possible food crisis.

    In terms of gender, the research proves that women are the ones in charge of cooking in Spanish homes: a 77.8% of women against a 22.2% of men. Among men, university students between the age of 30 and 40 are the ones that most commonly cook at home. This data backs the claim that proposes that it is women who are more involved in following a healthy diet.

    Research Team

    • Cecilia Díaz Méndez
    • Isabel García Espejo
    • Rodolfo Gutiérrez Palacios
    • Amparo Novo Vázquez