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Government Takes Drastic Measures to Halt Rise of ‘Super-Obesity’ in Mexico

Jude Webber -
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June 12, 2017

Diabetes sufferer Juan Pedro Franco weighed nearly 600kg, a world record, before dropping 170kg to undergo life-saving surgery (Agence France-Presse)

Mexico is suffering an obesity epidemic that has helped diabetes become the country’s number one killer. One in three Mexican adults and three out of 10 children are obese or overweight; one in four adults suffers from hypertension; and nearly one adult in 10 has been diagnosed with diabetes. Before Mr Franco, two other Mexicans held the record for the world’s fattest person. Both died.

According to state health insurer IMSS, which covers some 19m Mexicans and runs more than 6,000 medical centres, diabetes, hypertension, kidney failure and cancer have become the biggest causes of death. Combined, they gobble up a third of the agency’s budget. IMSS estimates that the cost of treating them will soar more than 4.5 times by 2050 to 344bn pesos ($18.4bn) a year from 76bn pesos now. “There’s no money for that,” says IMSS chief Mikel Arriola.

That has prompted a seismic shift within IMSS to a new model of preventive care, launched in May, in the northern state of Nuevo León. Mr Arriola expects to roll it out widely next year.

Instead of treating patients when symptoms arise, the new approach is to identify those at risk and nip disease in the bud by having IMSS doctors visit companies and perform health checks on workers. So far, 10,000 out of a target of 127,000 people have been seen — and 20 per cent have been found to be pre-diabetic, with higher than normal blood sugar levels, without knowing it.

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Related: State of Mexico University Creates Strategies to Prevent Obesity (The Yucatan Times)

Related: Swallowable Balloons Work to Curb Obesity — Study (

Related: Obesity "Frightening" in Latin America, Driving Disease and Draining Economies - U.N. (Thomson Reuters Foundation)

Related: Your Child Is 40 Per Cent Likely to Inherit Your Obesity, Says Study (IANS)

Related: As More Latin Americans Eat Processed Food, Obesity Rates Surge (Reuters)

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