Wednesday, December 6, 2023

Combating the virus: ‘We don’t need bottled poison:’ health minister

Covid-19 has had a huge impact on Mexico due to the high prevalence of diet-related chronic diseases, Deputy Health Minister Hugo López-Gatell said Saturday.

Speaking at an event in Berriozábal, Chiapas, López-Gatell said that if people had diets free of junk food and sugary drinks – which he described as “bottled poison” – the impact of any virus on the population of Mexico would be less.

He has said repeatedly that the high prevalence of diabetes, hypertension and obesity is a major factor in the high number of Covid-19 deaths in Mexico.

López-Gatell, the government’s coronavirus point man, said Saturday that diet-related health problems date back 40 years in Mexico and lamented that many people have abandoned healthier, more natural foods for highly-processed ones.

“What are we eating? How much salt are we putting on our food? Enough salt already! [Packaged] food already has salt,” he said.

“How much sugar are we putting into drinks? Fruit already has sugar. And, of course, why do we need bottled poison?” López-Gatell asked, referring to sugary soda and juice. “Why do we need to eat donuts, cakes and chips?”

The deputy minister told his audience that if there are overweight and obese people within their communities, it is because they are consuming too much of the wrong foods and drinks.

“There is no reason for you to have overweight people [in your communities]. If you have them, it’s because they’re eating too much [junk food], … it’s because they’re drinking soda or juice. … Those that are bottled are not juice, it’s paint with sugar,” López-Gatell said.

“Health in Mexico would be very different if we hadn’t allowed ourselves to be fooled by the lifestyles that are shown on television, heard on the radio and which we see in advertisements,” he said.

The health official’s remarks came a month after President López Obrador delivered a sermon-like video address in which he urged people to follow a healthy diet full of fresh and nutritional food.

Corn, beans, seasonal fruit, fish and hormone-free meat should be on Mexicans’ dining tables, he said, adding that drinking a lot of water and exercise are also crucial for good health.

Source: Reforma (sp) 

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