Battling Obesity in Mexico

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Posted on 10/29/2013


Children in Mexico need sustainable access to healthy food.
Children in Mexico need sustainable access to healthy food.

In countries where poverty rates are high, such as Mexico, many children and their families suffer from a range of health issues like malaria and tuberculosis. Another emerging concern is obesity. Recently, Mexico narrowly edged out the United States as the world's most obese country per capita, a statistic that carries serious health problems for many Mexicans.

A Growing Problem

According to data from the 2010 Global Burden of Disease study, incidence of disability and premature death resulting from obesity among Mexicans increased by 164 percent between 1990 and 2010. Although the reasons for this substantial increase are complex, the heightened availability of low-priced soft drinks, many of which contain high levels of sugar and processed sugar products such as high fructose corn syrup, is believed to be a significant contributing factor.

Although increased consumption of sugary beverages is one of the GBD study's 14 primary factors in growing obesity rates in many countries including Mexico, a range of other dietary problems play a role. Reduced or inadequate intake of fruits, nuts and vegetables, alongside heightened consumption of processed foods, are also contributing to rising obesity rates in Mexico and other countries. These dietary problems are common among low-income families, as unhealthy food is often much cheaper and more available than healthy food.

Taking a Stand

To combat the country's growing obesity problem, the Mexican government is considering ways in which to make sugary soft drinks less appealing to consumers. Most notable of these initiatives is a proposed national tax on soda, similar to the program put forth by New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg. But while obesity is a major problem, causing diabetes to skyrocket in Mexico, some regions still suffer from hunger and food insecurity.

ChildFund helps children and families in need produce their own food, which can also lead to extra income by selling fruit and vegetables. Our Real Gifts catalog allows you to provide a set of gardening tools to families in Mexico and other countries where agricultural supplies are out of reach for many families. A gift of just $54 will supply hoes, spades, pitchforks and other essential tools to families that need them most. In addition to providing families with the means to grow their own healthy fruits and vegetables, the surplus produce can be sold at local markets, bolstering families' income.