70% of Mexican adults are overweight or obese, according to some estimates, no thanks to trends like industrialized agriculture and the invasion of fast food chains from abroad.

By Tracy Miller / New York Daily News

Is Mexico even fatter than the United States?

No thanks to industrialized agriculture, widely available cheap junk food and the invasion of fast food chains from the U.S., our south-of-the-border neighbors are the world’s new losers at the battle of the bulge, according to some estimates. In a report released last month, the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) found Mexico has a 32.8% adult obesity rate, surpassing the U.S. at 31.8%.
About 70% of Mexico’s population is either overweight or obese, and one in six suffers from diabetes, which kills around 70,000 people a year — roughly as many as the country’s notorious gang violence, according to a Global Post report.
The FAO’s State of Food and Agriculture report notes that obesity is a form of malnutrition, and in countries like Mexico and the U.S., the two go hand in hand.
Filling up on processed foods deprives people of the nutrients they need while simultaneously widening their waistlines.
“The same people who are malnourished are the ones who are becoming obese,” echoed Abelardo Avila, a physician with Mexico’s National Nutrition Institute. “In the poor classes we have obese parents and malnourished children. The worst thing is the children are becoming programmed for obesity. It’s a very serious epidemic,” he told the Global Post.
Avila blamed the country’s anti-poverty programs in part for the crisis, saying money given to rural families by the government is often spent on cheap fried food and sodas. Foods like tacos and tamales, once viewed as treats, are now a daily indulgence for many.
Fast food restaurants have also proliferated since Mexico began allowing U.S. chains to set up shop in the 1990s.
And, as in the U.S., many complain that fresh produce, fish and other nutritious foods are often too expensive for cash-strapped households. Nearly 50% of Mexicans live in poverty, according to the Global Post report.