Wednesday, June 19, 2024

Neoliberalism ‘colonized the palates’ of Mexicans, left high levels of obesity

A high-ranking agriculture official blames neoliberalism for Mexico’s high levels of junk food consumption and resulting high levels of obesity.

Speaking at the Health Ministry’s coronavirus press briefing on Thursday night, Deputy Agriculture Minister Víctor Suárez Carrera said the adoption of a neoliberal economic model by successive governments in the 36-year period between 1982 and 2018 led to Mexicans favoring imported junk food over local, healthier products.

“In summary we can say that the neoliberal model imposed food imperialism, a colonization of our palates,” he said.

Suárez, who urged citizens to eat a healthy diet made up of locally-produced foods, said Mexican-made products have been devalued in recent decades.

“All the agricultural systems, … all the foods [and] all the beverages that are the result of rural and indigenous agricultural cultures were devalued,” he said.

Many people reached the conclusion that locally-produced foods are a relic of the past and must be substituted, the official said.

Suárez charged that during the “neoliberal” period, Mexico’s agricultural system was altered to satisfy the needs of export markets rather than those of the local population.

“Quality foods, fruit and vegetables, were exported, and the dietary model of junk food and sugary drinks was imported,” he said.

The entry into force of the North American Free Trade Agreement, or NAFTA, in 1994 is often cited as a major reason why Mexicans began eating more unhealthy food and drinking more soft drinks. The prevalence of diet-related chronic diseases such as diabetes and obesity significantly increased as a result.

In recent months, health officials and President López Obrador have blamed Mexico’s high Covid-19 death toll on the high levels of chronic disease and urged Mexicans to reconsider their diets.

In a sermon-like video message in June, López Obrador said that people should be eating more corn, beans, seasonal fruit and fish and less meat from animals that have been fattened up with hormones. He offered similar advice in his second annual report to the nation this week.

Suárez said last night that a return to healthy eating is possible because many nutritious foods are still being produced in the Mexican countryside.

Source: El Universal (sp) 

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