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Mexico: World's fastest-growing bellies meet state slimming diet

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Eliana Aponte/Reuters

(Read caption) Small piece, please: Cooks prepare the world’s longest sandwich in Mexico City.

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• A local, slice-of-life story from a Monitor correspondent.

MEXICO CITY – Succulent pork tacos. Frisbee-sized disks of fried pigskin. Enchiladas smothered in cream.

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Yes, the cuisine in Mexico is divine, but it is downright calorific. And the citizens here are fast becoming the fattest in the world – closing in on the biggie-size-loving United States.

“The rate of increase in obesity in adults in [Mexico] over the past 15 years is probably the fastest we’ve seen in any country around the globe,” says Barry Popkin, a nutrition expert at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill who advises the Mexican government.

Main culprits include the globalization of fast food, urban living, and a penchant for soft drinks and other sugar-laden beverages.

The good news? Mr. Popkin says Mexico has taken one of the most aggressive stances against its bulging belly. The government is now handing out reduced-fat milk to welfare recipients instead of whole milk and is working on getting drinking water in schools across a nation where a can of Coca-Cola is usually more accessible than a glass of clear agua. This month Mexico will begin a “no more salt” pilot program in the state of Colima to get saltshakers off restaurant tables. The State Council on Women and Social Wellbeing in the state of Mexico also began providing “tastings” to introduce taco-loving Mexicans to calamari, soy, and sausage made of trout.


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