Mexico restricts soft drink TV ads to fight obesity

July 16, 2014

Obese man07/16/14 BBC News,

Mexico is restricting television advertising for high-calorie food and soft drinks, as part of its campaign against obesity, the government says. Such ads will be banned with immediate effect on terrestrial and cable TV between 14:30 and 19:30 on weekdays and between 07:30 and 19:30 at weekends. Restrictions will also be imposed on similar ads shown at the cinema. Seventy percent of adults and 30% of children in Mexico are obese or overweight, official figures suggest.

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Mexican Billionaire Slim Backs Biotech Firm Focused On Cancer and Kidney Disease Treatments

June 24, 2014

Forbes, 06/23/14

medicine science 2Atara Biotherapeutics Inc., which is developing therapies for illnesses such as kidney disease and cancer, has filed for an initial public offering (IPO), The Wall Street Journal  reported on Friday. Through a family trust that owns 9.3% of Atara shares, Mexican telecom tycoon Carlos Slim Helú is one of Atara’s key investors, according to the regulatory filing.

In the filings Atara said that the proceeds from the IPO would be used for development and clinical studies of two of its drug candidates and to expand its research for other drug candidates. Asked by email whether Slim plans to increase his participation in Atara, Arturo Elías Ayub, Slim’s spokesperson, declined to comment.

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Mexico’s Natives Didn’t Mix Much, New Study Shows

June 13, 2014

06/12/14 National Geographic

people walking down city street - blurThough one country politically, the genetics of indigenous Mexicans shows that their ancestors were very distinct groups that mixed remarkably little. A study published today in Science found more genetic isolation than expected among these populations.

“You can clearly differentiate each of the native American groups one from the other,” said Carlos Bustamante, a professor of genetics at Stanford who led the research. It was “kind of surprising,” he said, that this “plays out even though there’s been 500 years of admixture, huge amounts of population growth, and lots of migration and movement.”

The study marks the first time that researchers looked at the genetic history of Mexico, taking samples from more than a thousand people representing 20 indigenous and 11 mestizo (a person of combined European and Native American descent) groups. The map they made from that data shows nine distinct groups—including Maya, Lacandon, Tojolabal, and Zapotec—with very little intermingling among them.

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Even With Obamacare, Many Latinos Still Seek Treatment In Mexico

May 5, 2014

latino-healthKaiser Health News, 5/5/14

Irma Montalvo signed up for a health plan through California’s new insurance exchange last month, getting coverage for the first time in eight years.

But when she needed treatment for a painful skin rash, Montalvo didn’t go to a doctor near her home in Chula Vista. Instead she drove to Mexico, about 16 miles south. Her doctor, Cecilia Espinoza, diagnosed her with shingles and prescribed medication to relieve pain and head off complications.

Montalvo, 64, said she comes to Tijuana in part because it costs just $15 to see the doctor. She can’t use her insurance for care outside California but it’s still cheaper because she doesn’t have to worry about a deductible. More important, she said, is that she feels comfortable with Espinoza.

“She listens to me,” said Montalvo, a U.S. citizen who was born in Mexico, said in Spanish. “I come here feeling really bad, and three days later I am better.” Mexican immigrants living in California, Arizona, Texas and New Mexico have long sought health care in border cities like Tijuana, Mexicali and Nogales. The Affordable Care Act won’t change that, experts said, even though it has expanded coverage to millions of people, including many Latinos.

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Mexico City’s Plan Verde

April 22, 2014

environment - child hugging treeGreen Cities

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.

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Mexico food labeling rules draw fire on sugar

April 22, 2014

Obese manThe Washington Post, 4/21/14

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.

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Novo Nordisk Seeks to Boost Sales of Insulin in U.S., Mexico

April 3, 2014

shutterstock_120171124The Walls Street Journal, 04/03/14

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.

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Mexico City “Eco-Bici” Inspires Alternate Transportation

March 5, 2014

people walking down city street - blurNBC, 3/4/14

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.

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Mexico City: water torture on a grand and ludicrous scale

February 5, 2014

globe north south americaThe Guardian, 2/5/14

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.

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PepsiCo, Nestlé to Invest in Mexico

January 28, 2014

drawing bar chartThe Wall Street Journal, 1/24/14

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.

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