Fri, 07/09/2010 - 22:04
Mexican youth: Obese, sick and with weak hearts
Mexican diet in a month. Photo from photobucket NeNe_WeNo
If you are in the vicinity of a school in any part of the country, just when the front gate opens and the students come out after a busy school day, they head straight to a food stand located right in front or in the surroundings to buy chips, candies, pork cracklings with hot sauce and lemon, corncob topped with mayonnaise and chili powder or simple they take out their snacks that they bought during recesses at the schoolyard. What is inevitable not to notice in this everyday scene, is that many of the pupils are chubby and their round bellies pops out.
In recent months there has been a national debate to ban ‘junk food’ in all the schools of the country, after president Felipe Calderón officially announced on January 25th that Mexico holds the first place worldwide in childhood and adult obesity, as well as childhood diabetes.
A couple of months later, on April 9th, thirteen year old Alejandro García Rojas, who weighed 120 kilos / 264 pounds died of a cardiac arrest on one of the platforms of a passenger bus terminal in Mexico City. Experts foresees, that cases like Alejandro will occur more frequently if something isn’t done quickly to reduce obesity.
According to a research made by two Mexican public hospitals: Hospital Infantil de México and Hospital Primero de Octubre, where they studied the hearts of 15 obese children. Their findings were alarming and stunning, it revealed that 11 of those children have arterial thickening that corresponds to a 70 year old adult.
Other important facts, according to the World Health Organization and the International Association for the Study of Obesity, 31% of Mexican between ages 5 to 17 suffer over weight and it’s estimated that one of three new born will develop type 2 diabetes throughout their lives, as well, they are in risk to suffer other illness such as hypertension, arthritis, heart attack and certain types of cancer.
Photo by Roberto García Ortiz, La Jornada
Despite that the Mexican Institute of Social Security (IMSS) and the National Confederation of Pediatrics of Mexico have been alerting in the past ten years the growth of this epidemic within the society, the authorities didn’t do anything to avoid this. According to the International Association for the Study of Obesity, the lack of political will of the Mexican government for more then a decade, to go against the economical interests of the major U.S corporate of processed food, has led to child obesity in this country to be out of control.
Personally, I do believe that ‘junk food’ is part of the problem of obesity in this country, but not the only one. Its ban in schools and make compulsory for students to work-out for 30 minutes, as the Ministry of Public Education intents to implement, hopefully, in the next school year, if the bill is approve, but won’t fully solve the problem. Taking into account, that in general, the Mexicans have terrible eating habits, most of the food and traditional Mexican snacks are fried and greasy and there is no doubt that you will find in almost every Mexican home, several bottles of soda on the dining table, not for nothing Mexico is consider the second country that most sodas are consume worldwide. As I see it, the health official has a huge task in their hands to tackle effectively the bad eating habits, deeply-rooted for decades, within the society. Mexican law makers should put their political and economical interests aside, for the benefit of the country. A country with sick people is a unproductive and uncompetitive country.
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