Reducing Childhood Obesity in Mexico

by

www.singlemindedwomen.com

The obesity rate among Mexican school-aged children rose from 18.4% in 1999 to 26.2% in 2006, and it is estimated that over 69% of the country’s population over the age of 15 is overweight. Type 2 diabetes is now the leading cause of death in the country.  Mexico leads the world in soft-drink consumption with an average of 43 gallons consumed per person per year.

In response, the government has instituted a ban on the sale of soft-drinks and junk food in public schools as well as an increase in the number of hours of physical education from one to three per week. The government has also begun an after-school diet and exercise program in which children can exercise and learn about preparing and eating healthy foods.

However, regardless of the ban on selling junk food and soda inside schools, vendors still gather outside many schools and sell cheap unhealthy foods to children as soon as they exit the school grounds.

While the government has taken steps to address childhood obesity, additional policy changes are needed. Only vendors agreeing to sell healthy snacks and water should be permitted to sell food outside schools. The increase of one hour of physical education per week to three still equates to less than one hour of physical education per day and can be improved.
www.everydayhealth.com

Unless efforts to make healthy foods as cheap and ubiquitous as the high-fat and high-sugar foods sold by street vendors are increased, Mexico will face an even greater diabetes problem in the future as well as rising rates of other chronic diseases such as high blood pressure and heart disease. Through in-school and after-school programs, children can be taught the importance of a healthy diet and exercise before they suffer the long-term negative effects of an unhealthy and sedentary lifestyle.

Additional resources:
WHO
PAHO
CAMBIO

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