Politicians step up the fight against Mexico’s Coca-Cola habit

10/29/2020

Source: The Economist

On a visit in July to Chiapas, a poor southern state, Hugo López-Gatell, Mexico’s covid-19 tsar, condemned an unlikely culprit for deaths from the disease. Fizzy drinks are “bottled poison”. Every year 40,000 Mexicans, the number of recorded covid-19 victims at the time, die from drinking too many, he claimed. The country’s health “would be different had we not been fooled” by a marketing machine that promotes products “as if [they] were happiness”.

The blasé response to the pandemic by President Andrés Manuel López Obrador and his administration is a bigger reason why the official death toll now stands at 90,000. But they are correct to point out that sugary drinks contribute to Mexico’s high rates of obesity and diabetes, which make people more vulnerable to the virus. Three-quarters of Mexicans are overweight, up from a fifth in 1996. Although fizzy drinks are a worthier target than some of Mr López Obrador’s nemeses (suppliers of renewable energy, for example), they are also inescapably part of the country’s culture.

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