The practice of changing clocks twice a year at the start and end of daylight saving time could soon become a thing of the past.
President López Obrador said Wednesday that there is a good chance that the controversial custom will be terminated this year.
“We have an inquiry open to make a decision and they already delivered the documents and we’re going to disclose them to you because the savings [generated by daylight saving time] are minimal and the harm to health is considerable,” he told reporters at his morning news conference.
López Obrador, a longtime critic of daylight saving time – first introduced in Mexico in 1996 – said that a study completed by the Energy Ministry in conjunction with the Health Ministry and the Federal Electricity Commission concluded that daylight saving time generates savings of about 1 billion pesos (US $50.8 million) a year across Mexico.
“The conclusion is that the damage to health is greater than the importance of economic savings,” he said.
A 2021 study by the National Autonomous University’s Faculty of Medicine found that the twice-yearly time change can cause or aggravate flu, drowsiness, eating and digestive disorders and headaches, among other problems.
“It’s proven that health is harmed,” López Obrador said, adding that the decision on whether to eliminate daylight saving time or not will ultimately be dictated by what people want.
“Remember, [to govern] is to command by obeying. In other words if we see that there is majority support one way or the other no consultation” would be needed, López Obrador said, apparently referring to a referendum on the issue.
“We could measure [public support] with a survey, without the need for a consultation,” he said.
Later on Wednesday, the government released a Health Ministry report that advocated eliminating the practice.
“Why should we abolish summer time? The first thing we must consider is that the choice to have summer time is political and can therefore be changed,” it said. “… If we want to improve our health we mustn’t fight against our biological clock. It is advisable to return to standard time.”
The report attributed a range of ailments to summer time including biological, psycho-emotional and social disorders, drowsiness, irritability, and attention span, concentration and memory problems. It also said the observance of daylight saving time can increase people’s appetites at night, cause fatigue and diminish performance at work and school.
It takes adults up to seven days to adapt to a time change, while children take even longer, the Health Ministry report said.
“Some studies suggest an association between summer time and an increase in the occurrence of heart attacks, especially in the first week after being implemented,” it said.
“The time change alters the time … [people are] exposed to the sun and upsets our biological clock. The desynchronization with the environment alters our internal temporal order, causing physical and mental problems, and these problems arise more often in the days following a time change.”
With reports from Reforma