Last updateFri, 29 Apr 2016 3pm

VIEWPOINT: The fattening of Mexico’s children

Jalisco’s battle to reduce childhood obesity took a new turn last month when education chiefs announced a plan to fine primary school principals who allow the sale of junk food (chatarra) in their facilities.

Authorities admit, however, that the move is only a small part of a much larger fight to improve children’s health and reduce the growing obesity trend.

The alarming child obesity rate in Mexico – 34 percent of children are overweight, according to the most recent research – is rooted in multiple factors.  Poor nutrition is a major one. This often starts at birth with new mothers nowadays routinely rejecting breast-feeding, which is proven to lead to healthier infant weights.  Even with the extra taxes slapped on soft drinks by the federal government, the consumption of sugary beverages is widespread among children in Mexico, and while the country is bursting with low-cost fruits and vegetables, statistics show that most kids are not getting their recommended “five-a-day” input.  One of Mexico’s least distinguished claims to fame is its ranking as the world’s number one per capita consumer of soda.

Promoting exercise among children is another major goal for regional governments in Mexico.  Many public schools in Jalisco do not have regular physical education classes or assign insufficient time for the kind of activities that will make much difference to the health of their students.  (Officially, children enrolled at schools in Jalisco should receive a minimum of 30 minutes’ exercise each day.)

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