October 16, 2013
The New York Times, 10/16/2013
Rosa Isela Sandate kicked her drinking habit about six months ago and swears she will never go back.
She would down a Coke or a Boing!, a tooth-jangling sweet local drink, at every meal. Her belly grew so big that diners at her lunch stand thought she was pregnant and warned her against working too close to the grill. “They said, ‘Take very good care of the baby, the heat will hurt it,’ ” she said. It was hard banishing the sugary drinks, recalled Ms. Sandate, 31, nursing a large bottle of water, but the effort paid off. She has lost 13 pounds.
The government would like more Mexicans to follow Ms. Sandate’s example. In a bet against an epidemic of obesity and diabetes, President Enrique Peña Nieto has proposed a tax on sales of all sugary drinks. If it goes through, the tax will make Mexico a rare test case of a national soda tax directed at a severe obesity problem.
October 10, 2013
By the middle of October, if everything stays on schedule, Mexico’s legislators may well prove that they haven’t learned a thing from policies that have been tried and failed, from Denmark to New York City.
Mexico’s government is deciding whether to levy a 1-peso-per-liter tax on manufactured sugary drinks, purportedly to address Mexico’s obesity epidemic. The tax would raise just over $900 million in annual revenue. But experience shows: the extra revenue won’t go to reduce the obesity rate in Mexico — or anywhere else. And, even if it did, experience also shows that the extra revenues collected won’t have the intended effects on consumer behavior – which is where the waist-line battle is won or lost.
September 10, 2013
The Wall Street Journal, 9/10/2013
The Mexican government proposed penalizing sugary beverages with a special tax in an effort to contain twin epidemics of obesity and Type 2 diabetes, attempting to join countries such as France and Hungary in taxing sweet drinks in the name of public health.
President Enrique Peña Nieto’s tax overhaul unveiled on Sunday targets all sugar-sweetened beverages, not just soda, in a country where seven of 10 adults are either overweight or obese. An estimated 15% of people over age 20 have adult-onset diabetes.
August 29, 2013
The Wall Street Journal, 8/28/2013
The public-health battle over sugary soft drinks, punctuated by New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg‘s failed attempt to ban big sodas, has spread to Mexico, long a stronghold of Coca-Cola Co.
This summer, a series of ads splashed across buses, billboards and along subway platforms here in the capital showed 12 heaping spoonfuls of sugar next to a roughly 20-ounce bottle of soda. The ads asked: “Would you eat 12 spoonfuls of sugar? Why do you drink soda?” The ad campaign has fueled a fledgling movement to rein in Mexico’s heavy soda consumption.
August 20, 2013
The Wall Street Journal, 8/19/2013
Mexican industrialists defended the role that packaged food and beverage companies play in the national diet Monday amid rising concerns about belly fat.
Mexico’s latest national survey on health and nutrition showed in 2012 that seven out of 10 adults in the country are either overweight or obese, while diabetes and other chronic illnesses are on the rise, sparking debate among politicians about steps the government could take to address a growing public health crisis. Proposals on the table include a special 20% tax on sweet, fizzy soda–the beverage already carries sales tax–or extending the 16% sales tax to all processed food. Any such expansion in food taxes is expected to be folded into the federal government’s fiscal reform proposal, due for unveiling in September, as the oil-revenue reliant country seeks to expand its tax base.
August 8, 2013
Mexico’s soda lobby fought back on Wednesday against those who blame carbonated drinks for the country’s rising obesity rate, now higher than in the United States, pointing to lack of exercise and fried foods as the real culprits.
A United Nations report released last month put Mexico’s obesity rate at 32.8 percent of adults, just above 31.8 percent in the United States, making Mexico the fattest country in the Western Hemisphere excluding Belize and some small Caribbean Islands.
At slightly more than 12 ounces per day, Mexican per capita carbonated drink consumption rates are among the world’s highest. The country’s advocacy groups have seized on this statistic to launch an anti-soda ad campaign in Mexico City subways.
July 30, 2013
The Economist, 7/27/2013
For countries with rich culinary traditions that date back to the Aztecs and Incas, Mexico and Peru have developed quite a taste for modern food fashions. Mexicans quaff more fizzy drinks than any other country; Peru has the highest density of fast-food joints in the world. Chile, one of the world’s biggest exporters of fruit, doesn’t eat much of it: processed foods account for more than half an average Chilean’s shopping basket. Even in slender Brazil, the eating of sweets and junk food has risen fivefold in 30 years.
Not all waistlines have met this barrage of sugar, salt and fat in the same way, but across much of Latin America and the Caribbean the trend stands out like a muffin top. The Food and Agricultural Organisation, a UN agency, says the region has become the most overweight in the developing world. In contrast to 1990, when the fat epidemic took off, far more years of healthy life are now lost in Latin America through overeating than through hunger.
July 18, 2013
By John D. Sutter, CNN, 7/17/2013
Experts are putting forward all sorts of reasons Mexico recently became more obese than the United States — and one of the most overweight countries in the world.
Poverty, tacos, urbanization, soda. Those are the widely discussed culprits. And they, along with the choices people in Mexico make, are no doubt part of the story. But there’s an uberfactor here: Mexico’s neighbor to the north. Could one reason for Mexico’s growing, deadly obesity problem be that the country is unfortunate enough to share a border with the United States — land of the Coke, home of diabetes?
July 12, 2013
The Mexico Institute’s “Weekly News Summary,” released every Friday afternoon summarizes the week’s most prominent Mexico headlines published in the English-language press, as well as the most engaging opinion pieces by Mexican columnists.
What the English-language press had to say…
Last Sunday’s local elections in Mexico dominated the headlines this week. The aftermath of the process has seen widespread confusion, with rival parties claiming cheating strategies against each other throughout the country. Overall, election results are expected to define and strengthen the attitude of the opposition parties and their strategy to contribute to Mr. Peña Nieto’s reform agenda, as the parties prepare to negotiate energy and fiscal reforms. The most closely watched election was Baja California, a northwestern state where the PAN has governed since 1989. With almost all the votes counted, a PAN-PRD alliance represented by Francisco “Kiko” Vega held the advantage early on Monday. However, Mexican election officials ordered a recount citing a glitch in the vote-counting system.
The Economist labeled the Pact for Mexico the ‘political workhorse’ in Mexican politics, highlighting the fact that none of the opposition parties appear ready to abandon the pact just yet. Both the PAN and PRD hope to use the alliance to negotiate political reforms that would weaken the PRI in some of its regional strongholds. The Economist also pointed out that now that the electoral process is over, President Peña Nieto is likely to face a hard choice between maintaining the Pact intact or going against the Left to reform Mexico’s energy sector. If it comes to that, the British weekly argues he should ditch the Pact to prevent it from becoming an obstacle to reform.
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July 12, 2013
BBC Mundo, 7/10/2013
La noticia se extendió como reguero de pólvora: “México le quita el título de más obeso a Estados Unidos”, tituló un medio internacional. “Cómo México engordó tanto y ahora es más obeso que Estados Unidos”, anunció otro. Todos los medios citaban el último informe de la FAO (Organización de las Naciones Unidas para la Agricultura), titulado The state of food and agriculture 2013.
Allí, escondido en un cuadro en la página 77 (en la sección anexos estadísticos), está el dato. Bajo la columna “Prevalencia de obesidad entre adultos”, se indica: Estados Unidos: 31.8%; México: 32.8%. El problema es que, en la misma columna, se indica que las cifras son de 2008.