** ADVANCE FOR SUNDAY, SEPT. 28 ** Angel Moreno, 14, who weighs 71.5 kg, or 156.528 lb, gets a check-up at Mexico's Children's Hospital in Mexico City, Friday, Aug. 29, 2008. Mexico is on track to surpass the United States as one of the world's fattest countries by 2018. Nearly half of Mexico's 110 million people already are overweight, while the number of fat children has climbed 8 percent a year in the last decade. (AP Photo/Alexandre Meneghini)AP2008
In the Battle of the Bulge, Mexico hit the United States with a knuckle sandwich…and then ate it.
A new report from the United Nations reveals that Mexico has surpassed the United States as the world’s fattest country, with 32.8 percent of Mexicans now considered obese and 70 percent overweight. The U.S., however, isn’t far behind in this pound-for-pound battle with 31.8 percent of citizens weighing in at an obese level.
The U.N. categorizes overweight and obese people as having abnormal or excessive fat accumulation that may impair health and is generally measured by taking a person’s Body Mass Index. A normal BMI is around 18 to 24 percent — Mexico’s average is around 28.5 percent.
The report blames Mexico’s rising income levels and a culture of consumerism to the expanding belt sizes across the Latin American country. What appears most surprising from the report is that while 50 percent of Mexico’s population is considered poor, “it is the malnourished that are becoming obese.”
Both cardiovascular disease and diabetes are on the rise in Mexico, and weight-related diabetes claims the most Mexican lives each year, with nearly one of every six Mexican adults suffering from the disease.
“In the poor classes we have obese parents and malnourished children,” said physician Abelardo Avila with Mexico's National Nutrition Institute, according to the Daily Mail. “The worst thing is the children are becoming programmed for obesity. It's a very serious epidemic.”
For some longtime residents of Mexico, the news that their country has beat out the U.S. in the weight war does not come as a surprise.
'”Because of a lack of money and food, people go for more energy-intense foods. These are often high in sugar or fat. People drink Coca Cola as if it was water in order to have the energy to carry on — and so many of the foods are rich in carbs, are full of cheese or are fried,” said Sally Neiman, who has lived in Mexico for 20 years.
“There is no control in schools to what kids eat these days, it is normal to see a kid having a soda for breakfast and eating 'comida chatarra' (junk food), which is allowed to be sold in schools.”