Staff Reporter

THE owners ofmore than 26'000 restaurants are being urged to tackle the problem of obesity as part of a new healthy eating scheme.
The tendency to eat out is on the increase in Spain. It is estimated that eating out accounts for 30 percent of spending on food, or some 20.5 billion euros.

In order that diners have a healthy choice, the Ministry for Health has introduced an initiative that sees restaurants awarded with the Gustino logo if they adhere to 10 basic guidelines in the preparation of their menus.

Firstly, one of every three starters should be based around vegetables. Diners should also have the choice of vegetables with their main courses. Often main courses are only served with chips.

Fresh fruit, natural juices and dry fruit should be available as one of the three options for pudding every day.
Restaurants with Gustino logo will also offer a fish dish every day, so that diners are not obliged to eat pasta or meat.
Dishes should also be available that don't reguire great quantities of fatty ingredients, such as cream, lard, margarine, butter or too much oil. Healthy cooking methods should also be used in place of too much frying.

Those who want to eat less should also have the choice of a smaller size dish, somewhere between that of a starter and a main course. Diners will be offered a bottle of water and alcoholic drinks will served by the unit. Finally, virgin olive oil will be used to cook and wholegrain bread will be available as an alternative to white bread.

The Ministry has signed a deal with the company Accor Services, which runs the Ticket Restaurant system that is employed by 26'000 restaurants in Spain, to introduce the new logo.

Once restaurants sign up to the initiative, their chefs will be obliged to attend a course given by the Foundation for the Mediterranean Diet.