Since 2016, obesity was declared a sanitary emergency in Mexico, considering that 15 percent of Mexico´s children are obese. Between 2012 2018, there were no major improvements in this area whatsoever. On Dec. 4 FAO and the UN released "Public Policy Recommendations for National, State and Local Prevention, Control and Reduction of Poor Nutrition in Mexican Girls, Boys and Teenagers," as well as a message urging for policies to reduce malnutrition levels in Mexico.
In an MBN article, obesity rates started to rise after the original NAFTA agreement was enacted in 1994 because it represented a change in food consumption. Such was the impact of this nutritional transition that to this day, out of all Latin America, Mexico has the highest rate of obesity, meaning the possibility of people developing type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, cardiovascular diseases, breast cancer, among others, could lead to a reduced life expectancy.
As reported by the UN, the problem does not end with obesity, but it also includes undernourishment, so Mexico has to tackle both extremes of the spectrum. In the report published along with the recommendations, it is mentioned that by tackling this problem, other factors like school performance, productivity, and economic growth could improve.
The nine primary recommendations given in the official document are:
- Developing national and state strategies focused on the first 1000 days of life to assure primary attention and nutritional care, especially in rural areas.
- Ensure breastfeeding and a child´s proper nutrition within the first six months.
- Regulating food publicity and having clear labels for infant formulas and food and beverages for children under two years.
- Monitor the implementation of the Breastmilk Substitutes Code.
- Modify labor legislations to increase maternity leave and include women in the informal labor sector.
- Promote the approval of the General Law of the Right to Adequate Food and the update of the Dietary Guidelines of Mexico and the Official Mexican Standard 043 on food guidance.
- Promote the design and implementation of communication campaigns for behavioral changes according life stages.
- Facilitate the adoption of healthy lifestyles, ensuring to drink plenty of water, good hygiene conditions, infrastructure, or materials for frequent physical activity and provision of fresh food.
- Have guidelines and regulations on healthy and sustainable nutrition and hydration, including breastfeeding and physical activity in childcare centers.
Lina Pohl, FAO representative in Mexico, said, "The publication that we present to you today is a tool that aims to contribute to national efforts to face this other pandemic that affects Mexican children´s malnutrition in its three ways: overweight, malnutrition and micronutrient deficiency. We call for modifying the food system and current patterns of food consumption towards others that are more sustainable, crucial actions to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals for the 2030 Agenda."