Obesity rates in Mexico have risen sharply in the last 40 years, says a new study by the World Health Organization (WHO).
A report published yesterday for World Obesity Day said obesity among Mexicans older than 20 had risen to 34% in 2016, up from 13.5% in 1975.
The study, produced in conjunction with the British university Imperial College London, found that the rate in among girls aged five to 19 was 1.9% in 1975. By 2016 that figure had risen to 12.8%.
Among boys, the rate rose from 2.7% to 16.8% over the same period.
The health organization urged Mexico to restrict junk food advertising targeting young audiences and increase the tax on soft drinks to 20% and consider increasing tax on food of low nutritional value.
“One of the things we recommend to combat obesity in Mexico is a restriction on the marketing and advertising of those products [junk food], especially that which is directed towards children, who are very easily influenced,” said WHO official Juana Willumsen.
She said the 10% tax imposed on soft drinks in 2014 resulted in a 6% decline in consumption in the first six months and as much as 12% towards the end of the year.
Willumsen described the tax as “a great step forward” but recommended doubling the rate to 20%.
She also recommended incentives to encourage a healthier diet and that Mexican society reexamine its original diet. Mexico and other countries have switched from generally healthy traditional foods to that which is industrially processed and rich in flours, fat and sugar.