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.
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.
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 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.
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.
He was like many people in their early 20s, at least the type with spiky black hair and two lip rings. Four years ago, while living in this teeming border city, Gonzalo Garcia says he spent free time in the U.S., to shop, meet girls, and “hang out.” He had no idea he was developing a potentially deadly form of tuberculosis. Exactly how long he had it will never be known. He says he started losing weight and becoming tired and tried to get help. But it took a year before a doctor finally figured out what was wrong: He had a drug-resistant strain of TB. “Many doctors said I was just fine,” said Mr. Garcia, sitting in the clinic where he was cured.
To this day, it isn’t clear if he infected anyone on either side of the border while he was contagious. But his tale illustrates a nagging concern among health officials who say the 2,000-mile border between the U.S. and Mexico could become a breeding ground for one of the hardest forms of TB to treat. Already, both California and Texas, as well as some states on the Mexico side of the border, have unusually high rates of drug-resistant TB.
ABC News, 1/7/2013
Authorities in the southern Mexican state of Chiapas say a bacterial disease has killed five babies and sickened 41 others in a remote indigenous community that is experiencing a wave of intense cold and rains. Chiapas’ health department said Sunday in a statement that residents of Emiliano Zapata in the municipality of Yajalon have been urged to stay in their homes and avoid contact with others to prevent the spread of the bacteria that is causing the infection, which is characterized by coughing and fever. Authorities are looking into whether it is whooping cough.
Kansas City Star, 11/21/2012
A fifth of all Mexican women and more than a quarter of men are believed to be at risk for diabetes now. It’s already the nation’s No. 1 killer, taking some 70,000 lives a year, far more than gangster violence.
Public health experts blame changes in lifestyle that have made Mexicans more obese than anywhere else on Earth except the United States. They attribute changes to powerful snack and soft drink industries, newly sedentary ways of living and a genetic heritage susceptible to diabetes, a chronic, life-threatening illness.
The Washington Post, 11/8/2012
The decision by voters in Colorado and Washington state to legalize the recreational use of marijuana has left Mexican President-elect Enrique Peña Nieto and his team scrambling to reformulate their anti-drug strategies in light of what one senior aide said was a referendum that “changes the rules of the game.”
It is too early to know what Mexico’s response to the successful ballot measures will be, but a top aide said Peña Nieto and members of his incoming administration will discuss the issue with President Obama and congressional leaders in Washington this month. The legalization votes, however, are expected to spark a broad debate in Mexico about the direction and costs of the U.S.-backed drug war here.
Associated Press, 2/9/12
But the leader of the Institutional Revolutionary Party in Guerrero state also says that blame goes to the candidate who held the event. Party leader Victor Valencia says it’s not the fault of the former ruling party.
Authorities in the indigenous town of Chilapa had to open an auditorium Wednesday to treat people who became sick after eating rice tacos and eggs handed out by former mayor Sergio Dolores, who is running for congress. Guerrero state civil protection officials say adults and children were fainting, throwing up and suffering from diarrhea.
San Francisco Chronicle, 10/21/11
Anghella knows she is obese and she doesn’t like it. And now, even though she doesn’t know how to read or count calories, she is on a diet. With the help of her grandmother and caretaker, Elizabeth Sucilla, Anghella is following a modest diet and exercise program established for her by a nurse at a local public hospital earlier this year.
“I have to stop eating candies,” she said. Her new regimen also requires her to cut down on the deep-fried potato wedges she ate every other day in the streets and spoonfuls of heavy cream she downed like yogurt.