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Tacos more dangerous than drug cartels in Mexico

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
November 21st, 2012
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

What's more dangerous to the Mexican people than drug cartels? According to statistics, the greatest growing threat to Mexicans isn't poverty, crime, or drugs. It something far more mundane and controllable.

MEXICO CITY, MEXICO (Catholic Online) - The greatest growing threat to Mexicans is diabetes. Despite the national reputation for poverty, the people generally enjoy a sufficient diet, and that diet includes sweet and fatty foods whose content sugar and fat contents rivals what is available in the United States.

Diabetes takes 70,000 lives per year in Mexico, far eclipsing the drug cartels for lethality.

In fact, the United States may be the culprit as the American food industry makes greater inroads into Mexico, selling addictive treats to everyone from children to the elderly. 

The problem is so great that 20 percent of all Mexican woman and 25 percent of Mexican men are either diabetic or at risk for developing diabetes.

Only the United States has a more obese population.

Public hospitals report they are being crushed, literally, by the diabetic conditions that are presented there. Increasingly, patients are seeking help for blindness, kidney disease, and other assorted afflictions.

Mexican health officials warn that unless the situation is reversed, the healthcare system in the country will collapse. Already, half of the patients who require diabetic care cannot get it because they lack the insurance coverage to pay for it. And as demand for diabetic care increases, so do the prices.

According to official statistics at least 150,000 Mexicans receive dialysis. A matching number lives without it, approaching death because they cannot afford it.

The Health Secretariat says anywhere between 6.5 million and 10 million Mexicans are diabetic. Meanwhile, the population is exploding and growing older. By 2050, the country will have 25 million elderly and the pressure to work harder and faster is growing.

In many Mexican households, workers take, or used to take, long lunches, returning home to enjoy home-cooked meals prepared with locally harvested ingredients. As pressure to produce increases, lunch breaks become short and workers turn to delivered food and food that they can purchase and consume quickly. This is particularly prevalent in urban areas. Over the past decade, the pace of life in Mexico has quickened perceptibly.

Even the ubiquitous taco carts, which are popular on street corners, are famous for selling unhealthy food and are contributing in their own way to the obesity epidemic.

Adding to the problem is the lack of drinkable tap water, which is widely considered unsafe. This compels people to drink sugary beverages instead which contributes to the obesity epidemic.

In fact, Mexicans drink about two sugary beverages per day, more than their counterparts in the United States.

The healthcare system in Mexico is already overburdened and troubled. The influx of diabetes patients only serves to exacerbate the crisis. The long-term humanitarian impact of the disease threatens to exceed even the most violent depredations of the drug cartels.

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