How did Mexico get fatter than America?

Obesity in Mexico - Bigger than the Americans

“We have gone from being a model country when it comes to nutrition to a daunting example,” complains Alejandro Calvillo from the consumer protection organization “El poder del consumidor”. The latest figures prove him right. Mexicans drink more sugary fizzy drinks than anyone else on the planet, according to a new study by Harvard University. It is 180 liters per year and nose, i.e. around half a liter per day. The Mexicans even overshadow their neighbors in the USA who invented the cola.

But hamburgers, sandwiches and donuts are also flooding the Mexican market. At the same time, the consumption of vegetables and fresh fruit fell by a third between 1988 and 2002. The consequences are devastating. Seven out of ten adults in Mexico are overweight; in Germany, for example, it is only five out of ten. According to Harvard researchers, obesity and diabetes have killed around half a million people in Mexico in the past six years. That would be about seven times more victims than the drug war claimed in the same period. Mexican politics have recognized the problem.

A tax on sugary drinks is currently being discussed in Congress. The legislative initiative provides for a tax of one peso (six cents) per liter, about ten percent of the price. The government of President Enrique Peña Nieto expects that the levy could flush around 700 million euros into the state coffers in the coming year. But the planned soft drink tax is hotly contested and the drinks lobby is powerful. For example, a new TV commercial by consumer advocates warning of the sugar content has hardly been seen on Mexican television so far. The big TV companies refuse to broadcast it. You don't want to mess with the advertising partners of the powerful beverage industry.

From Klaus Ehringfeld