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Mexico pushes for National Weight Loss

Posted on Monday, September 29, 2008 at 05:31PM by Registered CommenterPennino Corp. CEO | Comments1 Comment


Mexico pushes for national weight loss

(1) 29.September 2008, 14:20

In Mexico, which is on track to catch up with the United States within a decade as one of the world's fattests countries, nearly half of its 110 million people are overweight and the number of fat children has climbed 8 percent a year in the last decade.

Abraham Leon was getting a checkup when he found out he had high blood pressure and was at risk of developing diabetes.


On the spot, the 5-foot-6-inch (1.68-meter), 240-pound (108.9-kilogram) lab researcher joined „Vamos Por Un Million de Kilos,“ (Let's Lose a Million Kilos), a national campaign to get Mexicans to collectively trim about 2 million pounds (910,000 kilograms).

„The longer we carry this excess weight, the more serious the problem becomes,“ said Dr. Samuel Flores Huerta, director of the Department of Community Health at Mexico's Children's Hospital. „Obesity is costing this country a lot of money.“

"We only recommend that people lose a half to a full kilo (1 or 2 pounds) a week. More than that is not healthy."

Mexico is working to mandate more physical education in public schools and encourage employers and unions to give workers time for exercise. The administration of President Felipe Calderon says it has built or renovated more than 800 public sports facilities around the country. And the National Institute of Public Health is promoting food education and healthier choices in schools, such as fruits and vegetables instead of chips and soda.

Mexican cuisine has always been high in fat and carbohydrates. But for decades, people living in small villages could not grow enough crops to eat a lot, and had to travel long distances to gather more food.

Now, as the middle class grows and more people move to cities seeking work, diets have become laden with processed and fast foods. At the same time, doctors say, Mexicans spend more time in their cars or watching TV.

"It's not that healthy food is much more expensive. What happens is that calories have become cheaper."

The country has the disease rates to prove it. According to government statistics, new cases of high blood pressure increased 24 percent in Mexico in just six years, from 2000 to 2006. New cases of Type 2 diabetes, believed to be linked in part to obesity, jumped 31 percent during that time.

Companies spend a lot to market unhealthy foods in Mexico, said Margarita Safdie, an investigator at the public health institute. In one so-called health-conscious promotion, a company offered a free bottle of water to anyone buying two soft drinks.

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