Obesity Interventions: Not Just an American Phenomenon

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>Michelle Obama's efforts to fight childhood obesity understandably get a lot of buzz, but did you know that similar initiatives—and, arguably, stricter ones—are being implemented south of the border? In January, Mexican president Felipe Calderón, hoping to slim down what is now the second most overweight country in the world, launched his own anti-obesity campaign, and this May, the government announced that soft drinks, sugary juices, processed snacks, and even traditional dishes like fried tacos would be been banned from Mexican primary and secondary schools.

The Economist, in an article titled "One taco too many," reports on the country's new dietary interventions:

Enchiladas and other greasy national dishes are partly to blame. But foreign junk-food is piling on more pounds. McDonald's fries over 8,000 tonnes of potato a year in Mexico. The worst offender, according to Antonio Villa Romero of the medical faculty at the National Autonomous University of Mexico, is a plague of refrescos, or fizzy drinks. Sedentary lifestyles also contribute: Mexican schools lack playing-fields, and teachers say the crowded timetable (often with two shifts a day) leaves no room for sport.

The government has launched a national slimming campaign, led by an army of 535 trainers who are drilling a five-point exercise and healthy-eating plan into state education officials. Within five years, says Cuauhtémoc Mancha, who runs the programme, "we hope to see a new generation that drinks water rather than refrescos and prefers fresh meals to industrial food."

Read the full story at The Economist.

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Daniel Fromson, a former associate editor at The Atlantic, is a writer based in Washington, D.C. He writes regularly for The Washington Post. His work has also appeared in Harper's Magazine, New York, and Slate.

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