Previously known as one of the world’s most polluted cities, Mexico City is cleaning up its act, starting with Plan Verde (Green Plan). This 15-year initiative began in 2007, and is backed by the United Nations and the World Bank. Plan Verde aims to set aside approximately 8% of the city’s annual budget for implementing extensive and ambitious initiatives to make the city more environmentally friendly. These initiatives cover many topics of sustainability, but the main focus is on improving air quality and reducing traffic. Environmental awareness has been expanding throughout Mexico as efforts are made to preserve water supply, increase renewable energy production, and protect endangered species. Mexico City is leading the country in its environmental endeavors.
Mexico’s new food labeling rules were supposed to help fight an obesity epidemic, but activists and experts said Monday they may actually encourage the public to consume high levels of sugar. The debate over sugar has grown bitter, in a country with one of the highest obesity rates in the Western Hemisphere.
The new label rules unveiled last week list the amount of sugar and other contents as a percent of recommended daily intakes. The new labels will no longer list the weights of the ingredients, instead simply listing them as calories and percentages of recommended daily intake.
But the labels assume that an average acceptable daily consumption of sugar is about 360 calories, equivalent to about 90 grams of sugar. The World Health Organization has proposed a sugar intake of as little as 100 calories or about 25 grams per day.
Danish drug maker Novo Nordisk is setting out to redraw the geographical map for diabetes treatments. Historically the company—which commands roughly half the world market for insulin—has focused its efforts on Europe and Asia, leaving much of the Americas to Indianapolis-based Eli Lilly & Co. However, Novo Nordisk Chief Executive Lars Rebien Sorensen feels that strategy has left the company underrepresented in two major markets where Type 2 diabetes is rampant: the U.S. and Mexico. Mr. Sorensen aims to correct that imbalance. “For us, the United States is interesting because Lilly used to dominate the industry,” the 59-year-old executive said in an interview Friday in Mexico City, pegging his company’s share of the U.S. insulin market at 30%-plus versus just 20% a decade ago.
It’s called “Eco-bici”, as in “economical bicycle.” It’s a cheap way to get from point A to B but nope, you can’t find it in Los Angeles, at least not yet. Some 2,000 miles to the south, in a city similar in square miles, but three times the population of LA, the eco-bici is thriving in Mexico City. Stations located throughout the city, especially in the financial and business districts of Mexico are growing in popularity especially when compared against other forms of transportation. A subway ride costs 5 pesos (38 cents) but riders say the bike is still a bargain and it’s better for the environment. While the program is still growing in Mexico, some citizens say Los Angeles could learn from Mexico’s program.LA Mayor Eric Garcetti, who is traveling in Mexico this week, says the program could work in Los Angeles.
Water in Mexico City comes out of the tap in a variety of colours (yellow, rusty or earthy tints), flavours (sulphuric, chlorinated or metallic) and textures (muddy or gritty). Water that doesn’t smell, taste or look funky, however, is actually more dangerous, for it can sucker people into believing that it’s drinkable. In general, all those who have other options don’t drink the tap water. The quality of water supplied to buildings here has consistently been ranked at the bottom of any list of world cities. In addition, rusty pipes, mould and old water tanks made from asbestos (prohibited since the 1970s but still used in lower-income buildings) can add harmful substances to the water. Over time, poor quality water can corrode the pipes and eventually cause them to burst.
The demand for water in Mexico City doubles every 20 years, twice as fast as the population growth. For each square metre of new urban construction, 50 gallons of recoverable rainfall are lost each year, while for each acre of land occupied by humans the water that could be destined for more than 3,000 families is lost. With the relentless urbanisation of every part of the Mexico City valley, water is becoming less and less a renewable resource and more and more a scarce commodity.
Two of the world’s largest drink and snack makers are pouring billions of dollars into their Mexican operations, sending powerful signals the country is too lucrative to avoid despite hefty new “fat” taxes on sugary drinks and high-calorie snacks. The major investments come despite Mexico’s introduction on Jan. 1 of an 8% tax on high-calorie foods like potato chips, chocolate and ice cream and a roughly 12% tax on soda. Mexico says seven in 10 adults and a third of the country’s children are overweight or obese.
The government’s aggressive move has fanned concern among food and beverage companies that other countries could follow suit. Three other Latin American countries—Peru, Uruguay and Costa Rica—have already banned so-called junk foods from public schools since 2012. But many companies continue to see Mexico as a major source of growth amid slowing sales in other parts of the world. Mexico’s government is projecting the country’s economy will expand 3.9% in 2014, up from 1.3% last year, amid signs consumer spending is rebounding.
“Drink the water.” It’s a suggestion alien to Mexico City residents who have long shunned tap water in favor of the bottled kind and to the throngs of tourists who visit the city each year, bringing with them fears of “Montezuma’s Revenge.” But a law recently approved by Mexico City’s legislators will require all restaurants to install filters so they can offer patrons free, drinkable water that won’t lead to stomach problems and other ailments.
“We need to create a culture of water consumption,” said Dr. Jose Armando Ahued, health secretary for Mexico City. “We need to accept our water.” Bad tap water accounts in part for Mexico being the world’s top consumer of bottled water and — worse — soda, some 43 gallons per person a year. With an obesity epidemic nationwide, the city’s health department decided to back the water initiative.
A groundbreaking tax on sugar-sweetened beverages recently passed in Mexico could provide the evidence needed to justify similar laws across low- and middle-income countries and cities in the US, experts believe.
Campaigners and public health experts are watching closely to see what impact Mexico’s tax has on consumption. Mexico, where 32.8% of the population is obese, is now the country with the biggest weight problem in the world, according to the UN’s Food and Agricultural Organisation, overtaking the United States. The impact on health has been serious – 14% of the population has diabetes. Rates of high blood pressure, which can lead to stroke and heart attacks, are also high.
Day after day, Adonias Arevalo tried to calm his parents’ nerves, attempting to convince them it was safe for him to apply for government-subsidized health insurance through the nation’s new coverage system.
Like many other immigrants, Arevalo’s parents worried that personal information on their son’s application could somehow draw immigration authorities’ attention to the couple, who emigrated here illegally from El Salvador seven years ago.
After a week of discussion, the 22-year-old Houston man, who works at a community center and has temporary legal status, finally eased their fears. But other immigrant families remain leery, and some are so concerned that they would rather see loved ones go without coverage than risk giving personal information to a federal agency.
Chicago’s Heroin Problem: City’s Open-Air Drug Markets’ Surprising Connection To Mexican Drug Cartels (Video)December 13, 2013
The Huffington Post, 12/12/2013
In a Wednesday panel on HuffPost Live, Reader reporter Mick Dumke, Bloomberg reporter John Lippert and Chicago Recovery Alliance director Dan Bigg spoke on the Windy City’s heroin “open-air” heroin markets on the city’s West Side and its connection to the powerful Sinaloa Mexican drug cartel and its kingpin, “Public Enemy Number 1″ El Chapo Guzman.