The high cost of a cheap drink: Mexico’s struggle with soda.

Every year, 50% of all Mexican deaths occur due to one of 3 leading causes of death, all highly correlated with soda consumption: high blood sugar, high blood pressure, and obesity. To illustrate the importance, these deaths — 400K in total — represent 12x the number of annual homicides.

Of course, soft-drink consumption is not the only contributor to these deaths, and no company should be directly blamed for them. Low-nutrient street food, processed foods, high sugar content, lack of access to clean water, and low physical activity contribute to the leading causes of death (also correlated with low levels of education). However, soda consumption is one of the most significant contributors, especially in southern Mexico, where a soft drink is often more available than drinking water. Coke has become so entrenched in the culture that it’s now used in some religious ceremonies, basically replacing Holy Water— for more on that, check out this insightful documentary by Unreported World.

Slowly, the country has begun to take small steps to address the obesity epidemic. For example, it recently introduced very noticeable food labels to increase awareness, but much remains to be done. Restricting soft-drink sales to kids could be a step forward, as well as banning family-sized 2L bottles from stores. Perhaps Mexican policymakers could learn a thing or two from their European counterparts, whose leaders have taken a more holistic strategy to combat the growing obesity problem.

Source: /