Mexico’s obesity rate has tripled from 1980 to 2016 and some say the country’s participation in the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) is partly to blame, The New York Times reports.
NAFTA, which Mexico joined in 1994, significantly lowered trade barriers between Canada, Mexico and the United States, increasing the flow of goods and foreign investment between the three countries.
“We were in a good financial position so we could offer [our children] foods heavy in protein and also fast food,” William Ruiz Sánchez told TheNYT on his sons gaining weight in their teens. “We’d say to one another, ‘If they’re a little fat, it means they’re well fed.'”
Ruiz’s sons are now 275 and 300 pounds and around 30 years old.
Heart disease and high blood pressure are on the rise in Mexico. More people now die of diabetes in the country than any other disease, according to TheNYT.
Proponents of the trade agreement say the rise in weight-related health problems in the country are due to more affordable food and decreased malnutrition. Mexico’s stable economy is providing a steady supply of protein-rich, high calorie food that is helping people live longer Malnutrition in Mexican children has fallen from 6.2 percent in 1988 to 1.6 percent in 2012.
President Donald Trump initiated NAFTA renegotiations in the summer of 2017. Trump’s objectives of the renegotiation, outlined in July, includes reducing the U.S. trade deficit with Mexico and decreasing imports from Mexico, The Washington Post reports.
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