Around 70 percent of Mexican adults are obese or overweight, making the country one of the fattest on earth. Obesity alone could cost the country’s public health sector some $12,500 million by 2017.
Cheap fried food options, poverty and filling foods are all linked to a growth in waistlines across the country. In Latin America alone, 56 percent of adults are overweight or obese, compared to the 34 percent global average, Forbes reports.
Yet the Mexican government’s unusual response to obesity has been praised as a global example from which other expanding nations can learn: slapping a tax on fast food establishments and soft drink sales.
In just over a year, sales of soft drinks have dropped in the country by around 12 percent, with U.S. President Barack Obama keen to implement a similar measure.
Scorned for their high sugar content, corn sugar and empty calories, soft drinks have been increasingly linked to obesity in Mexico and the U.S. where obesity could affect over half of the country’s population within the next 15 years.
Mexico has taken steps to fight flab, even encouraging workers to get active in exchange for transport fares.
The study, funded in part by Bloomberg, found that ‘sinner taxes’ implemented on items such as tobacco, alcohol and now soft drinks, aid to dramatically reduce their consumption.
Yet for many Mexicans on an average wage, fried food is the only option to feed their families.
“Buying a family combo with fried chicken, fries and a drink feeds me and my three children at a price which I am able to pay,” Paola Flores, an office secretary commented, while waiting in line at a fast food establishment.
Yet, other fried food taxes could be next on the list if Mexico is to have a better chance of tackling a worrying epidemic.