We’ve been replaced, and it’s one of those times when a country does not want to be top dog. Mexico has moved to the top of the list and claimed the number one spot of "country with the highest rate of obesity." According to newswire reports, 70% of Mexico’s adults are overweight and one third of these individuals are seriously obese. Mexico has an extremely high rate of diabetes-related deaths, with nearly one in six citizens diagnosed with the disease. This lifestyle- related diabetes kills as many as 70,000 people yearly, which is a number that surpasses gang-related deaths over a six year period!! Every year, nearly 400,000 new cases of lifestyle driven diabetes is diagnosed. It should be noted that rates of diabetes and heart disease disproportionately hit the poor and the young, who also have staggering rates of malnourishment (especially among children). In fact, it is not unique to find obese parents and malnourished kids in the same household. Experts say the children are actually getting programmed for future obesity because of the lifestyle habits they are exposed to.
The problem in Mexico is so worrisome that the United Nations FAO, Food and Agricultural Organization, reached out to Mexico in 2011 to classify the burgeoning obesity issue as a national emergency. And it is the FAO who provided the new statistic of Mexico as the fattest nation this year, blaming industrialized agricultural production, which has been credited with helping to fuel worldwide obesity issues. Mexico now faces the need to cope with rising obesity rates as it also tries to solve national hunger. There have been efforts to create programs to alleviate the food insecurity facing 7.4 million Mexicans, with a special focus on the inhabitants in the rural southern communities. Critics of the programs feel that the money being given to help the hunger issue, may simply allow recipients to buy more of the unhealthy fried foods and sugar laden drinks.
Mexican natives use the term “vitamin T” to describe the tacos, tamales and tostadas that populate their diet, and indeed this kind of food may be driving obesity, especially as people become more and more sedentary. In past generations, working the land and fewer conveniences, balanced the heavy load of calories that these types of foods provide. Availability of food, portion sizes and lack of exercise have combined together to offer a guaranteed formula for serious weight gain. Despite healthy food options like broth soups, fruits, vegetables, fresh fish and salads, price point may direct consumers to the purchase of less healthy food choices. And the U.S. invasion of fast food has certainly helped to fuel obesity rates, with pizza, fried chicken and hamburgers quite popular additions to the daily diet of many. Parents may try to offer produce, if they can afford it, but the lure of addictive fast food is a tough adversary.
As is typical, wealthier Mexicans are turning to healthier food choices like salad and sushi and memberships in gyms. The question is how to make these choices possible for the significantly lower socio-economically challenged populace.
(Sources for this blog included AP newswire and www.dailynews.com/breakingnews)
Amy Hendel is a health professional, journalist and host of Food Rescue, Simple Smoothies and What’s for Lunch? Author of Fat Families, Thin Families and The 4 Habits of Healthy Families, she tweets health headlines daily @HealthGal1103. Catch her guest appearances on Marie! on Hallmark and other local and national news and talk shows.
Published On: July 11, 2013