Obesity is the new epidemic which is sweeping Spain and unless eating habits and lifestyles change, within 40 years, the majority of the adult population will be obese. The Spanish Society for the study of Obesity opened its fifth annual conference in Palma yesterday and this year's president of the conference, Andreu Palou, told delegates that 51 per cent of the Spanish population is overweight. Palou said that over the past few years, obesity has grown by 30 per cent in Spain with the main reason being the fact that our bodies are not able to deal with the huge variety of food on offer to modern society. As yet scientists and nutrition experts have been unable to put their fingers on which foods are responsible for the sharp increases in obesity. On the other hand however, perhaps people are merely eating too much of the wrong foods. A total of 450 experts are taking part in the conference which will be discussing the health problems caused by obesity, the social costs and the physical effects. Palou, a biochemical and bio-molecular professor, said that there is no solution for obesity, explaining that there are 250 genes directly related to obesity and that greater investigation is still needed. He said that between 50 and 65 per cent of changes in body weight are gene-related. However, he said that not all people who suffer from obesity have problems with their metabolism. Palou said that each patient has be treated as an individual. Obesity is considered to be an illness because it can lead to early death and make the body more susceptible to other illnesses.