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How Much of the Free-Enterprise Food System is Unhealthy?

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Touch the Soil News #302

When national governments pass laws and regulations to curb certain foods, you know the problem is big. On the radar screen for curtailment in Mexico is soda pop. Of concern is Mexico’s out-of-control obesity and diabetes rates. Mexico has the highest rate of overweight and obese adults in the world along with an estimated 10 million Mexicans who have diabetes. The latest reports reveal that 7 out of 10 Mexicans are overweight and 1/3 of the population is clinically obese. Obesity rates among the poor in Mexico are even higher.

In 2014, Mexico implemented a 1 peso per liter tax on sugary drinks in attempts to stem consumption. Because many other nations are facing similar health crisis, the actions of Mexico are being watched internationally.

Mexican officials are now tracking the impact. Researchers from the University of Carolina and the Mexican National Institute on Public Health researched purchasing patterns in more than 6,000 households in 53 large cities. The Journal BMJ reports that since the passing of the sugary-drink tax, sales of these sweet drinks has dropped by 12 percent and bottled water sales increased 4 percent.

Sugary drinks and their dispensing equipment are a common sight around the world.

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Here at home in the United States, an August 2015 Gallup poll showed that at least 6 in 10 adults are trying to steer clear of soda in their diets.

On other fronts, France, Finland and Ireland have introduced legislation aimed at lowering consumption of foods high in fat or sugar. These measures met controversy and powerful lobbying from sugary drink industries. As Americans begin to correlate excessive sugar to health, the sugary-drink manufacturers are stepping up lobby efforts and advertising to convince us to stay on the sugar binge.

Sugar has become a global force with its own agenda, political clout and deep-pocket financing. While Mexico has the world’s highest obesity rate, the United States is No. 2. While it is indirectly correlated, attempts to localize food and increase intakes of fresh vegetables and fruits may be more important than we think.

Following is a video clip on Mexico’s obesity problem.

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