Monday, October 17, 2011
Obesity presents severe risk to Mexico: 70% of population is overweight
A 2010 study of obesity commissioned by the Mexican government concluded that 70% of the country’s population is clinically overweight, and many more are at an unhealthy weight. Some four million children suffer from obesity.
According to the federal study, Yucatán state has Mexico's highest obesity rate among children age 5 to 11, and the fifth highest among adolescents 12 to 19. In the younger group 36.3% of children are overweight, and in the latter group 38.9% are. The study was reported October 3 by El Diario de la Yucatán, one of Mérida's principal newspapers.
The problem is aggravated by poverty. The limited incomes on which many families must subsist interferes with maintenance of a healthy diet, and promotes the consumption of fast food and junk food, says Mauricio Hernández, undersecretary of Mexico’s agency for disease prevention. Those foods are generally cheaper and are readily available on the street, he noted.
“There is a huge imbalance between calories consumed and calories burnt through exercise,” said Hernández. “It’s very easy to take them in, but much harder to burn them.”
Jaime Zabludovsky, president of the Mexican Council for Consumable Products, said that “today, Mexicans live longer, they’ve moved (from the countryside) to the cities, and they eat more. Today people have access to (prepared) foods that they didn’t have access to in earlier times.”
Roberto Marmolejo, editor of Balance magazine, says that the problem is also one of lack of education about how to select healthy foods, as well as the importance of regular exercise.
In 2010 Mexico passed an anti-obesity law which was particularly aimed at young people. It prohibits the sale of foods with very low nutritional value, particularly ones high in fats, salt and sugar.
The World Health Organization (flag pictured) says that Mexico’s battle with obesity could cost the country $15 billion USD over the next decade, in the form of treatment for diseases such as diabetes, heart disease and hypertension.
at 2:19 PM