Local Daily News 16th January

A study with 360 people from the province shows that the Mediterranean diet reduces pathologies

A group of 361 patients from various health centres in the province have been undergoing regular check-ups and blood tests for six years, increasing their physical activity, controlling their weight and passing psychotechnical tests. But, above all, adhering to the Mediterranean diet, that is, a high consumption of legumes, vegetables and fruit and moderate consumption of meat, with a high presence of olive oil and nuts.

They are participating in a national clinical trial for the primary prevention of cardiovascular diseases through the Mediterranean diet. It is promoted by the Carlos III Health Institute and collaborates with regional administrations and university entities from all over the country, including the Miguel Hernández University (UMH) of Elche, which recently brought together all the participating people to assess the results obtained so far after six years of research, although the clinical study still has another two to go.

The first conclusions, although there are still no definitive ones, have proven that the Mediterranean diet is the best ally against obesity and its pathologies, mainly the risk of suffering a heart attack. In fact, to be part of the study, called Predimed-Plus, a group of men and women from all over the country were sought, over 55 years of age in the case of men, and over 60 in the case of women. (in both cases, under 75 years of age) who had cardiovascular risk (hypertension, cholesterol, diabetes, triglycerides or other metabolic syndromes).

Thus, a total of 6,874 participants were selected, 361 in the province of Alicante, being the fifth recruiting centre in number, with patients from the health centres of Cabo Huertas, Sant Joan, Mutxamel, San Vicente, El Raval de Elche and Santa Pola. Family doctors also participate.

The objective of this multicenter study is to evaluate the effect of an intensive lifestyle intervention based on a hypocaloric Mediterranean diet, physical activity and behavioural treatment on the risk of cardiovascular events. “There are two groups, a Mediterranean diet study where participants are given advice on their consumption, and another intervention with a Mediterranean diet, restricting calories, more physical activity and behavioural therapy,” explains Laura Torres, from the UMH.

The participants in this macro-study on the health benefits of the Mediterranean diet have been followed for six years. “They have been weighing us, measuring, looking at our blood pressure, electrocardiograms, very complete analyses and, even, they analyse the clippings of our toenails, for a DNA control, and they have even played matching games for points without lifting the pencil from the paper or saying words that begin with a certain letter, to measure ourselves mentally”, explains Pedro Soriano, one of the participants in this study.

Visits to the dietitian and the answering of questionnaires, as well as talks, complete the actions in which these patients participate.

The data is very encouraging, according to what was said recently at the conferences organised by the UMH. “The participating population has increased their adherence to the Mediterranean diet, eats better, and the evidence is that it prevents cardiovascular diseases,” says Torres.

The participants also ensure that they feel much better since they have increased their adherence to the Mediterranean diet, lighter, with greater mobility and with less pain, even. “At the beginning, the participants had an average of eight points of adherence to the Mediterranean diet questionnaire and after one year the average increased to 13 points, it increased by five points, which is very good,” adds the researcher.

The patients corroborate it. “It has helped me to change some eating habits and, for example, I have switched to decaffeinated and now I have introduced legumes into my diet more often, and I have banished fried foods and eat more nuts,” says Pedro Soriano.

In short, an improvement in the quality of life. This program seeks a healthier and healthier life. “With the diet and a little exercise that they ask you to walk, you begin to avoid a series of diseases and stop taking pills; In the end, you do preventive medicine for yourself and save for Social Security”, concludes this patient.

The large city councils mobilise almost 200 million for dozens of works in an election year

After three most atypical years, which started normally but were very soon marked by the future of the pandemic, the municipalities of the province of Alicante are going to mobilise hundreds of millions of euros in this year that has just begun works and projects with which to try to win the support of their neighbours.

As has been happening term after term, the municipal elections of May 2023 will be for many mayors the perfect excuse to announce, start and, in the best of cases, finish dozens of actions, which in the case of the large town halls of the province will trigger public spending to nearly 200 million euros.

The municipalities of Benidorm and Elche, two of the three municipalities in the province together with l’Alfàs del Pi that have programs co-financed with European funds underway within the Dusi strategy, are the two cities with the most committed investments for this 2023, in which the projects included in said plan should be executed. In both cases, the projected investments exceed 35 million euros, although the status of their accounts differs enormously.

The Elche City Council, chaired by the socialist Carlos González, already has an approved municipal budget for this year, in which the investment item reaches 35.6 million euros, but to which new funds could be contributed from the remainder Treasury when the 2022 accounts are settled.

The new Carrús sports pavilion, with a budget of 9.8 million, or 14 million for works in schools are two of the most outstanding items in the accounts, which also leave funds to improve public spaces, parks or roads; demolish deteriorated buildings in the San Antón neighbourhood; or build a social centre in Arenales.

On the contrary, in Benidorm, the local government of the popular Toni Pérez, has still been unable to present even the draft of the 2023 accounts, due to the difficulties he is encountering to balance expenses and income.

However, for now, this City Council has started, tendered or projected for this year works worth close to 38 million, apart from those that end up adding later, among which three Edusi projects stand out, such as the conversion of the bullring in a large civic and cultural space, with a budget of 13.7 million; or the construction of a youth hostel and a social mediation centre, with 2 million each. In addition, the wooden walkway on the Poniente beach, with 1.6 million, will also be changed before the elections; the Low Emissions Zone will begin to be implemented, awarded for 3.4 million; or the new accesses to the industrial estate will be tendered, to which the City Council will contribute 15.2 million financed with a loan.

The municipal budget of the Alicante City Council, approved for now only in the government meeting but which still does not go to full, foresees for 2023 investments worth 26.3 million, within which the third and last phase of redevelopment is planned of the Explanada, awarded for 3.1 million; various redevelopment works on roads located between the two castles, the total cost of which will reach 5.6 million; the remodelling of Paseo de los Mártires, right on the seafront, with 2.17 million; the reform of the Pitiu Rochel pavilion, endowed with 2 million; or the renovation of the San Blas park, to which another 3 million will be allocated. Of all of them, very few will be finished before the elections, although the PP and Cs bipartisan pretends that many, at least, can be advanced.

Now, although the accounts only foresee 26.3 million for investments for now, the government of Luis Barcala could even end up tripling the item destined for investments and works before the municipal ones once the 2022 savings are incorporated, the amount of which is still unknown and that in 2021 it reached 80 million.

Something similar will happen in San Vicente del Raspeig. The socialist Jesús Villar has managed to carry out a budget that only foresees 2.6 million euros to carry out works, although with a commitment: to settle last year’s budget before March to incorporate the nearly 24 million that will remain for reform the Casa de la Festa or the Auditorium or carry out other pending projects.

In Torrevieja, where there is no budget for the moment either, the popular Eduardo Dolón plans to allocate 4.1 million to the new Siesta park, 5 to the rehabilitation of the Levante dam promenade, or 3 to the new Agamed headquarters, in addition to 14 million for works in schools or 8 for the rehabilitation of the Eras de la Sal, still in project.

Climate change leaves up to 150 tropical nights in a year in Alicante

The year 2022 was the warmest in the province of Alicante since there are records, confirming once again the progressive trend of thermal rise that has been taking place in recent times. It was confirmed a few days ago by the State Meteorological Agency (Aemet) in the Valencian Community and is also corroborated by the detailed data on a local scale offered by entities such as the Valencian Meteorological Association (Avamet), through its network of observatories, which show how on the coast and the areas closest to it more than a third of the nights were tropical, that is, with lows above 20 degrees. At some point, the warm nights numbered 150.

That was the case in Benidorm, where every night in July and August was warm, as well as all but two in June, just like in September, and even in October it only dropped below 20 degrees in 11 early mornings. But also in Alicante capital, 145 evenings with high temperatures were recorded, and 130 in Dénia, 125 in Santa Pola, 124 in Altea, 121 in Orihuela… In broad terms, the thermometer did not drop below 20 degrees at practically no time between June 1 and September 30 throughout the Alicante coast and pre-coast.

In the interior, the tropical nights were obviously less, but even so, it is very striking that 69 were registered in Balones, in El Comtat, a town located at an altitude of 660 metres. The same occurs with the 65 warm dawns recorded in Agres, the 57 in Benillup or the 53 in Ibi. Even in the sanctuary of the Font Roja de Alcoy, in a shaded area in the middle of the mountains and at 1,050 metres above sea level, the thermometer stayed above 20 degrees on 42 occasions, a figure completely out of what was traditionally usual.

And if the temperatures were high at night, it is logical that they were also during the day. Avamet recorded up to 96 days of intense heat in the province of Alicante, with maximums above 32 degrees, specifically in Orihuela. There were also more than 90 exceptionally warm days in other parts of Vega Baja, and more than 80 in different locations in Baix Vinalopó and Marina Alta, but also in inland areas, in Alto Vinalopó and El Comtat. In addition, as in the case of tropical nights, the days with very high maximums already began in June, in the episode of thermal escalation that occurred that month.

At the same time, 2022 also ended as the wettest so far in the 21st century and one of the rainiest in the historical series, as this newspaper already advanced a few months ago, which would foreseeably happen. The place in the province of Alicante with the highest accumulated precipitation was Vall d’Ebo, with almost 1,972 litres per square metre. The 1,500 litres were exceeded in other towns of the Marina Alta and El Comtat such as l’Atzúbia and l’Orxa, and 1,000 in a large part of those same regions. And more than 500 were also collected at points in Vega Baja and Baix Vinalopó such as Pilar de la Horadada, Benejúzar and Torrellano.

Most of these precipitations were concentrated in an exceptionally rainy spring, and they did not fall torrentially except in very specific situations. One more anomaly in a year that has ceded the witness to 2023 that has also begun with high temperatures for the time of year, up to five degrees above average, as Aemet has published these days. This situation, however, is expected to change starting this week, with more common values for a month of January.

The director of the Climatology Laboratory of the University of Alicante (UA), Jorge Olcina, also highlights that 2022 was “an exceptional climatic year”, with very high temperatures and much more abundant rainfall than usual. “It does not mean that every year will be the same, but it is true that since the beginning of this century there has been a very clear warming trend” and there is “increasingly strong evidence,” he explains. “We are witnessing the confirmation of a process,” he stresses.

On the one hand, Olcina focuses on tropical nights, which are “a very clear indicator that climatic comfort is being lost.” But he also points to “the rise in the water temperature of the Mediterranean, which reached records in 2022, with 32 degrees off the coast of Valencia.” The Geography professor alludes, in this sense, to a “Mediterraneanization of climate change”, specific conditions due to the accumulation of heat in maritime waters. As a result of all this, “we are moving towards an increasingly less comfortable climate, with increasingly irregular and anarchic rainfall, and increasingly frequent events that we call extremes.”

Benidorm Fest 2023: the shock of tourism in low season

Concerts, giant screens, raffles or a gastronomic route and three main events: two semifinals and the grand final. The Benidorm Fest is just around the corner and the host city is already preparing to receive thousands of visitors and fans of this event that will celebrate its second edition in 2023. An event in which not only music is the protagonist, but it will be a real boost for the tourist sector of the municipality in low season.

Although the city is not without visitors and tourists all year round, from January, after the Christmas holidays, until March, the municipality experiences the weeks with the lowest tourist occupancy, which would be a low season, only in the tourist capital it means being well above 50% occupancy. Events like the Benidorm Fest on these dates are that “plus” that pushes the arrival of visitors to increase and to continue achieving good results. On this occasion, not only with rebounds on the weekend, but the rest of the week. This was explained to this newspaper by sources from the tourism sector who applaud the celebration of this type of appointment that helps to deseasonalize.

The first edition of the Benidorm Fest already contributed to this and all despite being in the middle of the wave of Omicron and with the covid very present. So the forecasts for this year are much better and the event will mean that the city will be full during a week in which not only the visitors will attend the semifinals and the final but also all the complementary activities that this year have been put into march, from concerts on days when there is no official contest, to screens for those who do not have a ticket or a tapas route, “TapaFest” to put gastronomy as a tourist attraction.

By sectors, the accommodation sector already has some forecast figures on the table: “Occupancy that week will surely increase by 10 or 15 points above a normal value”, according to the general secretary of Hosbec, Nuria Montes. In other words, it is expected to reach “75-80% occupancy” during those key days, which may even increase on the weekend. Because not only those who have a ticket will come to the city, but also many others who want to “live the atmosphere that there will be” every day. Thus, according to Montes, in other circumstances, without such an event, these data would not exceed 65% and could reach 70% on the weekend.

“If the weather is good it will be even better,” she added. The person in charge of Hosbec explained that, in addition, it is necessary to add “the incalculable promotion that supposes for the brand value”; that is to say, what it means for Benidorm as a city: “It is not only because of the Benidorm Fest but because of the very careful image that is going to be shown on those days through RTVE and many other media. And the work has a lot to do with that 24/7 that Visit Benidorm does, which is essential during that week”. An “incalculable” projection that is based on the work of all the “legs” that work at the Benidorm Fest in addition to public television: the Generalitat, City Councils, Hosbec and Visit Benidorm, explained Montes. “We all give our all to make it as good as possible. It is once again a brutal promotion lever.”

The president of Hosbec, Fede Fuster, also added that the city’s accommodations already notice part of that occupation with the arrival of part of the technical team that is already working on the assembly of the Benidorm Fest. And he stressed that “I hope there are more events of this level” that not only do the city good on the days that take place but also “before and after” in addition to the promotion that they entail. “That is why we insist on the need to have a large Palace of Events” that allows even more appointments of this type.

As for the apartments, occupancy can also reach 60% on those days, above the usual rate on these dates without this type of event, although the president of Aptur (Association of Tourist Apartments), Miguel Ángel Sotillos, indicated that “It will not be homogeneous throughout the sector” because “some will fill and others will not.” Thus he stressed that there are accommodations making special offers “and they are filling up.” All in all, the assessment is very positive: “In any coastal municipality, in this case Benidorm, it is very good that in the low season the offer is energised with events of this type.” Also because “foreign tourism has not just started and reached the figures for 2019, so any “punch” is very good for us.”

Sotillos also stressed that the public of this type of event “takes the rest” and enjoys the city a lot when they come to it: “They eat out, they buy… it is very similar to what happens with other big sporting events.” And he also highlighted the value that this type of promotion has for the municipality: “It is not only the rise that there may be that week but the drag that it can do in the following months.”

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