With about 37 million hungry people in December 2014 compared to 68.5 million in 1991, Latin America is the only region of the world to meet the United Nations’ goal of reducing hunger by 2015. Paradoxically, Latin Americans are now being consumed by the obesity epidemic.
As per a report released by the Overseas Development Institute, at 56% of the adult population, overweight and obesity levels in the region are much higher than the average global rate of 34%.
The obesity menace is negatively impacting the poorer sections of the society and threatens to make a dent in the economic gains in the long run.
A big contributor to the ever-expanding obesity problem is the rise of middle with a penchant for junk foods high in salt, fat and sugar. Upbeat economies in Mexico, Brazil, and Colombia have seen an upsurge in the commodity market and the rise of a middle class with more money to spend on food.
Co-morbidities of obesity, such as diabetes and cardiac diseases, kill over 2.8 million people every year. That is higher than the number of people dying of hunger.
Rapidly rising obesity menace puts pressure on the global economy as well as the public healthcare systems.
Mexico – A Case of Acute Obesity Menace
With over 70% of the adults who are either overweight or obese, Mexico tops the list in Latin America as the fattest country. The cost of obesity was a whopping $5.5 billion in 2008, and if the trends persist, the costs may hit $12.5 billion by 2017.
The Mexican government has taken a number of steps to combat obesity, such as:
- Gratis subway rides to people who agree to do a specific number of squats
- Tax on sugar-rich beverages and fast foods
- Ban on unhealthy foods in school cafes
- Installation of water fountains to curtail consumption of sugar-laden drinks
Experts are of the view that the political influence of multinational food and drinks companies is the root of the Latin American obesity menace.
Source: “Obesity weighs on Latin America after success in fight against hunger” published on February 13, 2015.
URL – http://www.foxnews.com/health/2015/02/13/obesity-weighs-on-latin-america-after-success-in-fight-against-hunger/?intcmp=ob_homepage_health&intcmp=obnetwork