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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Mexico City Bets on Tap Water Law to Change Habit

January 24, 2014

woman shopping for water in big box storeAbc News, January 24, 2014

“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.

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Mexico enacts soda tax in effort to combat world’s highest obesity rate

January 16, 2014

Coca Cola BottlesThe Guardian, 01/16/2014

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.

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Mexico Takes Bloomberg-Like Swing at Soaring Obesity

October 16, 2013

Mexico consumes more Coca Cola per capita than any other country

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.

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With Its Soda Tax, Mexico Repeats The Mistakes Of Mayor Bloomberg – Op Ed

October 10, 2013

Mexico consumes more Coca Cola per capita than any other country

Forbes, 10/10/2013

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.

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Mexico Proposes Tax on Sugary Beverages

September 10, 2013

The Wall Street Journal, 9/10/2013
Obese man

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.

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Health Battle Over Soda Flares in Mexico

August 29, 2013

Obese manThe 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.

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Mexico’s Industrial Food Makers on Defensive as Waistlines Expand

August 20, 2013

Obese manThe 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.

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Mexico’s soda lobby rejects blame for rising obesity

August 8, 2013

Obese manReuters, 8/7/2013

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.

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Obesity in Latin America: Battle of the bulge

July 30, 2013

shutterstock_76369150The 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.

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