MEXICO CITY – The high level of obesity in Mexico requires comprehensive solutions and not isolated measures such as raising taxes on soft drinks, economic and health specialist Mario Rodarte said.
This type of tax is “regressive, affects low-income people more” and does not combat obesity if it is an isolated measure, the author of the book “Obesidad. ¿Que hacer? Politicas al vapor” (Obesity. What do to? Superficial policies) told Efe on Wednesday.
Among the main aspects of the fiscal reform proposed last month by President Enrique Peña Nieto is the creation of a health tax that increases the prices of carbonated beverages with an eye toward reducing obesity.
The idea has met stiff resistance from beverage companies and associations of retailers.
By “superficial policies,” Rodarte said he is referring to specific measures that are crafted without having a thorough understanding of the problem and which, in some cases, have adverse effects.
He said he feels that a superficial measure prevents the consumption of certain products, limits its sales sites and establishes taxes on specific foods.
Mexico is the No. 1 country in the world for obesity and about one-third of Mexican adults are obese, according to a United Nations report published in July.
Nutrition experts attribute the country’s high obesity rate to, among other things, the fact that Mexico is the top consumer per capita of sugary beverages.
To address the obesity problem requires knowing, on the one hand, how much the Mexican public health system spends in treating weight-related ailments, Rodarte said.
“This would serve to raise awareness by decision-makers and enable them to take action that is more preventive than curative,” he said.
He praised the advantages of the so-called Mediterranean diet, which in his opinion is one of the healthiest with its emphasis on the balanced consumption of fruits and vegetables, white fish, meat and dairy products, a combination that is “very close” to the diet of indigenous communities.