According to a new UN report, Mexico is now the fattest country among populous nations. The first place title was held by the United States as recently as March, according to a study by the National Academy of Sciences.
About 70 percent of Mexican adults are overweight, and a third of them are very overweight. Childhood obesity tripled in the last decade and experts say four out of five of those heavy kids will remain so the rest of their lives.
But don’t get too excited yet; America is not far behind. An FAO report found Mexico had a 32.8 percent adult obesity rate, and America with a close 31.8 percent.
Despite Mexico’s notorious reputation for drug violence, diabetes alone kills as many as 70,000 people a year in the country — roughly equal to the deaths authorities say have been caused by more than six years of the country’s gangland wars.
While spanning all social classes, this health crisis disproportionally hits the poor and the young.
“The same people who are malnourished are the ones who are becoming obese,” physician Albelardo Avila with Mexico’s National Nutrition Institute said. “In the poor classes we have obese parents and malnourished children. The worst thing is the children are becoming programmed for obesity. It’s a very serious epidemic.”
How is overfeeding a problem in a country where half of the people are poor and the government is launching a national anti-hunger campaign?
Some blame what Mexicans call the three Ts: tacos, tamales and tostados, which dominate the local diet. Modern urban lifestyles and rising incomes are making what used to be a special feast a daily, carbohydrate-heavy consumption.
The list of theories wouldn’t be complete without throwing a little blame America’s way; some say the U.S. fast food industry saturated the global economy in the 1990s and has contributed to the problem.
UN expert Olivier De Shutter claims in his report, “the result is that for many Mexicans…switching to healthier diets is becoming increasingly difficult. This problem stems from the food system as a whole.”