Coca Cola-Loving Mexico Now Most Obese Nation on Earth

Mexico

According to new statistics Mexico is now the most obese major nation on the planet. A few minor island-nations are even worse off, but among bigger countries Mexico now takes the title from the USA.

CBS: Mexico takes title of “most obese” from America

So why did Mexicans get this obese? Perhaps by eating too much junk food (full of processed carbs) and drinking too much soda?

Mexicans drink more Coca Cola than any other nationality, 225 litres (60 gallons) per person per year! Coca Cola is said to be “an essential part of the Mexican people’s diet and can be found even where there is no drinking water” (source).

But surely using Coca Cola instead of drinking water couldn’t possibly have made all these Mexicans obese? After all, Coca Cola is part of the solution to the obesity epidemic. Their commercials say so all the time and they even educate dietitians about it.

No, the problem has to be something else.

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46 Comments

Top Comments

  1. mezzo
    You are right doctor. It must be something else. These Mexicans must be lazy. They don't exercise enough. I feel certain that the number of gyms in Mexico is far below the number of gyms in the U.S. That is why they are now number one!
    Reply: #45
    Read more →
  2. Eric Gossick
    If we could only outlaw soda for three months and do a pre & post weigh-in....wonder what we would see! So sad to see another impact that the food industry is having on us.
    Read more →

All Comments

  1. Eric Gossick
    If we could only outlaw soda for three months and do a pre & post weigh-in....wonder what we would see! So sad to see another impact that the food industry is having on us.
  2. mezzo
    You are right doctor. It must be something else. These Mexicans must be lazy. They don't exercise enough. I feel certain that the number of gyms in Mexico is far below the number of gyms in the U.S. That is why they are now number one!
    Reply: #45
  3. paulc
    and yet they're still blaming fat for it, not carbs
  4. Christopher
    Let's establish a fund and buy Mexicans running shoes !!!
  5. murray
    225 litres per person per annum. How saddening. I feel bad for the children.
  6. Lisa
    Great post! FYI, Coca Cola is made with sugar in Mexico, not HFCS.
  7. sharonv
    I have heard from people who have visited Mexico that the water there that unless you want to get 'Montezumas Revenge', intense GI problems, you have to drink pop or beer, which are often cheaper than bottled water. I don't know how much this affects the locals. Maybe the solution for Mexico would be to find inexpensive ways to purify water.
  8. robert
    If you have access to drinkable water, there's really no good (objective) reason to drink anything else to stay hydrated, maybe tea is OK as well.

    So why do people drink this stuff in massive quantities? Could it be that it is actually sold cheaper than water? Is it for taste (food reward theory), or is it the sugar rush (insulin roller-coaster theory)? Is it a false belief that it is good for them, a false belief that has been implanted into their minds at a very young age? Or is it peer pressure, or is it the remnants of childhood "copy what your parents do" behaviour?

    I must admit that I drank a lot of coke-like fluids in my younger years, but I actually don't remember why. It certainly couldn't have been thirst, because sugary sodas don't really quench thirst that effectively. I think I drank it at home simply because it was there, sitting in the fridge waiting for me. I also don't really remember buying a crate of coke myself, so I guess it wasn't an addiction, but simply convenience and habit.

    Later on I switched to diluted fruit juices, as I didn't want the sugar-rush but the taste. Now it's just tap-water, tea and coffee. Again I don't really know why I made that switch. I guess I just don't see the point of drinking anything else. Can you grow out of drinking soda? Or was it a change in environment... I do remember that back then my parents reduced their consumption of sodas considerably.

    What do you think?

  9. Martha
    It's an age old tradition. They buy it by the case (bottles) and drink with their meal. Yes the water from the faucet in un drinkable so that's there best option they enjoy. I know of 70 year olds drinking many everyday. This lady on particular is thin and in most part healthily.
    I'm Hispanic and lived most my life in the US border with Mexico and have seen this all my life. I believe this article is true in the larger cities where fast foods are available. In rural cities Mexicans are very poor and walk everywhere and are thin. This article maybe more about people in large cities where processed foods are available.
  10. J. B. Rainsberger
    This hearkens back to stories of centuries-ago European peasants drinking beer or wine, rather than water, because it was safer.
  11. Christopher
    Martha, if I may use Your comment to illustrate how we all have been conditioned for the several decades that it is mostly lack of exercise which make us obese, You say: ..."In rural cities Mexicans are very poor and walk everywhere and are thin." You combined ..."walk everywhere and are thin". No doubt it is true, however it also could be that those people drink much less soda?. It is the aim and strategy of Coca-cola (amongst the others) that: "if we walk enough we will be thin; - it is nothing to do with our product - you just have to walk long enough and you will be thin and you can drink soda till kingdom come".
    Do not get me wrong Martah, I do agree with Your observations, but it might be that in rural Mexico less soda consumption plays part in people being thin.
  12. Draven782
    Let's not forget that just because people are thin does not mean they're not diabetic.

    The problem in Mexico is most likely a combination of processed foods,over consumption of corn,beans and rice as well as the availability of sugar laden drinks and drinks that the body breaks down into sugar such as beer and other alcohols.

  13. Tracy Canfield
    Coke is heavily advertised in rural areas of Mexico as well, often in indigenous languages, and consumption is very high. This isn't just an urban problem.

    Here's an article on Coke marketing in rural Mexico: http://english.periodismohumano.com/2013/03/05/the-coca-colization-of...

    Reply: #16
  14. victoria
    If you go to most (though I'd say any) grocery store in Mexico, there is an aisle also dedicated to vegetable oil.
  15. JM
    I have not been to Mexico in over 10 years. Pop and beer cheaper than bottled water? I wonder who is the primary owner or a controlling interest of the bottled water companies? Perhaps it is the softdrink companies.
  16. robert
    There is no way that pure water can be more expensive than a soda (water + stuff), unless somebody meddles with the prices.

    Now the big Q is, why the C.C. company doesn't just sell more water. They should make money if they sold pure water for the same price as coke (which they shouldn't, it should be cheaper).

    Maybe the C.C. company has heavily invested in HFCS / sugar production and plantations as well.

    But let's not just blame the soda companies. Not providing access to safe & cheap drinking water is a massive failure of infrastructure. Apparently the Mexican state / government has different priorities than the well-being of all of their citizens.

  17. Deane Alban
    Interesting to note that Coca Cola in Mexico is sweetened with SUGAR not HFCS. I live near the border and people actually smuggle back Mexican Coke! Many people think the Mexican version is healthier and less addictive but this blows that idea out of the water.
  18. Mario
    I'm from Mexico, and to let you know water is not more expensive than coke, a 2.5 liters of coke is about 23 pesos depending on the area you live in and a water jug is about 24 pesos which is about 18 liters of water so yeah you can see it's not more expensive if people drink coke it's because of traditions that the own family passes down to the kids, but don't just blame coke of the obesity people don't do much exercise and that is the main reason this happens, but don't think that just because Mexico is now number 1 on obesity means that the US is way better now, I mean the US is still number 2 that's still a lot if you think about it.
  19. Mike
    Coke isn't cheaper than water in Mexico -- they essentially start with bottled water to make the Coke in the bottling plants, and the same plants make both bottled water and Coke. Plus, people in Mexico have always known how to make their tap water safe.

    The reason Mexicans are getting fatter simple. They have more money these days and can afford more Coke (and other junk food). It's an occasional treat for the poor, but becomes a regular diet for the middle class and wealthy.

    At least these days one can find a sugar free diet coke just about anywhere they sell regular coke. I remember trying to find diet coke in Latin America twenty years ago. Good luck with that...

    Reply: #20
  20. robert
    But why do they buy more coke?

    I mean, it's just water, tons of sugar, some brown food colouring, maybe lemon juice, phosphoric acid, caffeine, and other flavours.

    I can at least comprehend that once you get richer you spend more money on 'luxury' items, hopefully better food, shoes, clothing..., fancy smart-phones, cars, travel...

    BUT COKE????

    Does drinking coke, or carrying a bottle of coke with you and drinking in public give you a bigger ego? As we've heard it is pretty cheap stuff in Mexico.

    I just don't get it.

  21. Mike
    They drink more because it's addicting and they can afford more. Sort of like how poor people tend to smoke fewer cigarettes than people who can buy more.

    But once people get even more money and better educated they start to recognize that sugar sodas, like cigarettes, are short term feel good products that are bad for you in the long run.

  22. Lila
    OMG! I can´t believe the misconceptions some people have about other countries. First of all, to that person saying Mexicans must be lazy and have fewer gyms than US? Totally rude and such a stupid comment unless I miss read the intention of it. Second of all, water is NOT more expensive than coke and the water supply is completely safe. That used to be a long time ago, when water supplies were not very well purified, but Mexico has improved enormously with their water supplies. Coca cola is addictive, whe ALL know by now, that sugar and HCFS is addictive and posinous. Coca cola also has caffeine so it´s logical to see why so many people consume this "syrup drink" These soda producing companies are so happy having all the people every where in the world addicted to their product and they get richer and richer. Authentic Mexican food is not processed, most of it is still made by scratch. It is so colorful, delicious and healthy if you choose the right foods again (as you would do if your are smart with your health any where in the world). Yes, maybe Mexico´s economy is getting better and people can afford more sodas and junk food (like McDonlads, Pizza Hut, Burger King, Kentucky Fried Chicken, etc and of course Coca Cola). México es a beautiful country, with beautiful people, amazing cuisine, traditions and culture. I am Mexican and yes, our country has issues, obesity being one of them like the rest of the world is suffering from this epidemic. I am so sad to see this problem grow and grow bigger every day. We need to apraoch this with information, education and support. To not let us be brain washed by these companies. It´s not only Coca Cola, but the whole food indsutry trying to make themselves rich not caring for our health at all. Yes, we are all responsible for our own health, but unfortunately we are brain washed to trust these foods because they make us believe they are ok to consume.People in Mexico need to educate themselves about how to eat healthy again keeping our traditions with our authentic food and turn away from proccesed foods and SODAS!

    By the way, I can drink tap water safely form my house and will not get Moctezuma´s revenge. Maybe some tourists have a very sensitive and weak stomach.

    Replies: #23, #39
  23. Murray
    Lila, mezzo was being ironic about laziness and exercise. He or she was lampooning the calorie-is-a-calorie dogma from the soft drink manufacturers, which has been a running topic on the website and you may not have been following. It was a slight to Coke, not Mexicans.
  24. Lila
    Ok, as I said, I must of misunderstood the intention of his comment because it would not be the first time I encounter a comment of that nature
  25. bill
    Lila:

    You might want to read a site a bit before
    jumping in with comments.

    Also, paragraphs might make your info
    more readable.

    ...and take a breath and count to
    10 before you post.

  26. Galina L.
    I live in Florida, and there are a lot of people from Mexico here. Most of the time , when I see a family from of Mexicans in a store, adults are overweight, but children are obese. I feel worried for the hildren . My comment is not anty-Mexican. I am an immigrant myself, but from Eastern Europe.
  27. ZellZ
    This is why I drink Diet Soda now....when I drink soda. You can't just expect people to give up something, willy nilly. Especially when they are living in a country brutalized by drug violence. Drugs, btw, that are being shipped to America. So tell me, who are the Addicted ones, here??????
  28. Eric Anderson
    On this topic
    Robert Lustig, MD — Sugar: No Ordinary Commodity

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-sVlJEhnRu4

  29. Van Dammage
    mexico beating us at something? damn, wwe need to catch up! consume more sugar and carbs, america!! now,yes now!!
  30. Lila
    What did I miss Bill? Are we talking about this site or which site? Because if it´s about this site I have read quite a bit. Very informative and educational, all though I do not agree with everything.

    And what´s your point about me reading a bit more about a site before I jump in with comments??

  31. ZellZ
    There is too much focus on obesity. I say this fully understanding the seriousness of obesity in the world. However, there is no guarantee that ANY diet or way of eating can permanently keep weight off. The low carb way of eating lures you in w/the promise of eating "all you want" of meat, fish, chicken, eggs, pork, cheese. Then, after a while - maybe after a plateau hits - one reads the "fine print": you may have to limit that dairy & cheese. Oh, and those nuts & berries, too. Oh, and.....all that protein, too. Pretty soon, one can find him or herself on a DIET, basically, where you have to watch portion sizes, count this or that (carbs substitute for calories, but there's no difference in terms of all the counting that's required). Then, counting protein grams (watch that protein, one learns. Too much & you just might knock yourself out of the much touted, near Mythical state of ketosis or being keto-adapted). Read this book, read that one. Volek. Phinney. Vernon. Macros. Blah Blah Blah. After a while, it's just Another Diet. An Onerous Chore. A count-this, count-that daily task. Oh, and let's not forget to buy a blood ketone meter! Never mind if you can't afford those extremely pricey strips; tough luck! Your urine strips are so low tech! Not Accurate! Shame on You! And then there's all the conflicting views: have a diet soda! no, Don't, it's the Poisoned Nectar of Satan! Artificial Sweeteners, Bad! Good! Sort of Ok! No, Bad!!!! But have some fruity wine! Buy Organic Everything! (Too bad if you don't have much money. Too Damn Bad for You). Eat those Atkins bars! No, Don't! They are Processed Crap! Eat Lots of green leafy veggies! You need to on this diet, as it's very acidic (just heard this on Jimmy Moore). No, be careful! They might throw some of you out of Ketosis, the state that is God Like in its Glorious Magnificence!!!!! Honestly, it's better to do a low carb diet, than not. But one will not necessarily lose the same as someone else. Still, if you don't get diabetes After all, isn't That GREAT????!!!! I think so! Maybe you still are rounded, maybe fat. Maybe obese. But you are much healthier than you used to be & feel much better, even if not 100% great. So, maybe all this hyper focus on Weight is sort of what's the matter here? Everyone is different in terms of how much they will lose, as well as how much they want to restrict even acceptable low carb foods. Everyone is different in terms of how long they want to eat this way (& can eat this way & stay sane, which might mean Less restriction, not More, for Long Term Adherence to the low carb way of eating). You can look like that headless woman in the photo of Dr. E's post & not have diabetes. You can look thin, be thin And have diabetes. But Jeez, the very name of this blog is *Diect* Doctor. It Should *Health* Doctor, imho.
  32. bill
    Does anybody ever read these posts that
    are just a wall of words?
  33. ZellZ
    Sorry I misspelled **Diet** Doctor! (It Must have something to do w/my Absolute Contempt for diets....
  34. Lila
    Lol Zells. Let me copy and paste a post from a guy at mark daily's forum site. It's sooooo funny!
    .
    .
    .

    "I left CW for PB (primal blue print) relieved that I never had to eat dry toast without butter or the sawdust known as a boneless skinless chicken breast again. Butter, bacon and red meat were back on the list. Of course from that I learned to fear grains and legumes and heating olive oil beyond room temperature.

    But, I've been reading the forums and so now I know that I have to fear:
    fruit and tubers (because I have to keep my carbs below 20)
    nightshades (I'm a little unclear as to why but I may or may not have an autoimmune disease)
    eggs (depression)
    nuts (they are poisonous I tell you, POISONOUS)
    dairy (oh bye bye butter)
    coffee
    salt
    bacon (wait...I just got you back!)
    eating in a window larger than 4 hours a day (I did read on the forum that EVERYONE should limit their eating to a 4-6 hour window)

    So I settled down to my big ass salad (minus the carrots, peppers, tomatoes and flavor) with a 3 lb steak on top and continued to read.

    Oh shit, avocados are too high in omega 6 so despite the fact that coconut oil makes me sick, I tried to pour coconut oil on my big ass salad. It formed an interesting waxy coating and made me feel like I was eating suntan lotion, but all in the name of health.

    But then I started considering my meat. I mean whole foods SAID it was grass fed, but how do I know? I didnt see the cow's home. I decided I was best off learning to hunt.

    After some trial and error and brushes with the licensing laws of various type of hunting implements I settled down to my salad with venison and suntan lotion

    And then I thought. I had to turn down my place in the CSA run by my best friend because now the only veggies I could eat were lettuce, spinach, zucchini and cucumbers - everything else was either a nightshade, a grain, a legume or a tuber or a high carb winter squash. But while hanging out on her farm I heard her talk about her deer problems. See, the wild deer were wandering on to the farms and eating produce. And perhaps not just veggies. Wheat, oats and corn were being damaged as well. Maybe by deer.

    Oh shit....what if the deer I shot had wandered into a field somewhere and eaten some wheat? One mouthful of wheat would render the omega3: omega6 balance useless! Best to stick with fish on my salad. BUT who knows what the HELL is in that store bought so called wild fish. Probably just farm raised toxic omega 3 free fish.

    So I bought a boat and some fishing gear (boy they werent kidding when they said PB was expensive) I caught some tuna but had to throw it back because of the mercury. And the toxic waste in the Columbia river made me leary of the salmon and trout I caught. Sardines. Sardines are tiny little fish so they dont have much time to absorb toxins. But by then I was told it was the wrong season to fish for sardines myself. And the fact that I was out of vacation time to travel to the ocean. So I set out to buy some canned sardines.

    But then I read about BPA lining in canned foods and decided that wasnt safe. Who needs all those estrogen precursors.

    So...in true grok fashion I decided the only truly safe form of protein were the insects. Harder to catch in suburbia than you might think. At least I have my many hours of low level exercise down. (which was a relief because 2 weeks ago on one of my runs my HR slipped up to 76% and I have been afraid to run ever since)

    But then I realized the grubs were mostly feeding on grass roots and other pesticide laden things in suburbia.

    Damn.

    So as I sit down to my lettuce, zucchini, cucumber and suntan lotion salad, I now under stand why some folks find it easy to eat only once a day. My hair is falling out but that's ok because then I wont need shampoo."

    Hahahahaha it made me laugh so much.

    I just learn a little bit of everything and everybody. This way I make informed and smart choices so I can have balance and health in my life. What works for me, may not work for somebody else. Everybody should listen to their inner voice and be tuned in with their body, mind and soul.

    I hope my paragraphs are ok now :)

  35. Lila
    Wall of words? What about stop complaining about the posts and say something interesting, educational, informative, of some value that can help and support others.
  36. Murray
    At some point people have to take responsibility for exercising critical judgment to apply available knowledge to construct a lifestyle suitable to oneself. There are lots of different viewpoints based on different experiences. I react to nightshades, others don't. I react to eating a lot of monounsaturated fat (olive oil, hazelnuts, macadamia nuts, avocado, etc), others don't. I am fine with grass fed butter, others get a rise in blood sugar. The nice thing about measuring is that you can determine where you are and which health bloggers work for you. For example, Cantin's book on ketogenic diet (which saved her life by starving agressive cancer of sugar) counsels avoidance of butter and red meat. Why? Because by measurement, she determined it created an insulin response for both her and her type I diabetic son. By avoiding these, she kept in ketosis without limiting protein or caloric restriction and her son was able to go without insulin injections. Curious, I measured my own blood sugar and ketones after butter and after red meat (grass fed, grass finished cattle, elk, bison) and had no drop in ketones. I had a modest temporary rise in blood sugar (about 4.4 up to 4.9), but I have measured the same degree of rise in blood sugar from reading a recipe book for 20 minutes to plan a menu for the day. Blood sugar below 5 seems to be highly variable. So I conclude that Cantin is a keen observer (it was a life or death issue for her) but her and her son's sensitivity is not mine. I stay in ketosis eating butter and without limiting red meat protein. Perhaps Cantin has gut permeability and I don't or we have different gut flora,profiles. I am not sure of the reason, but the measurements are what they are.

    The bottom line is that each of these commentators has valuable insights to offer based on experience. But one always has to exercise critical thinking to discern what is valuable insight from experience, what is just plausible conjecture and how much of it is applicable to oneself. The basic principles of metabolics are the same for everyone, but there is a lot of variation and a lot of unknown factors still. In the Fine study on LCHF treatment for terminal cancer patients, on the same diet some achieved ketosis and lower blood sugar (and remission of cancer), others did not achieve ketosis (and their cancer progressed). This illustrates that no single dietary prescription will work the same for everyone. Frustrating, yes, but reality is reality.

  37. Jo tB
    Lila, great post. I laughed till I cried it was sooooo funny.

    Murray, great post. I agree with you all the way. What works for you may not work for me. My sensitivities are quite different to yours and so I have to figure out what works for me and not follow anyone else blindly. I recently found out that avocados causes my sugar levels to go through the roof (not a good idea when you're a T2 diabetic). So they're nog a healthy food for me.

  38. Sony
    Lila, that is so funny! And so true!

    We come to this way of eating with the idea we should be eating freely from God's bounty of whole foods and end up balancing the percentages of fat to protein with lab intensive accuracy while choking down 2Tbls of coconut oil with our fistful of supplements. Geez, let's make a fetish of what we eat...like the vegans.

  39. Mattis
    Your water is probably fine, but when I travel around the world (I'm Swedish) all the water I taste (Asia, Australia, New Zealand, USA, Canada) taste like chlorine. The different bacteria culture make my belly go wild, but I would get used to it eventually.

    Except the taste.

    Even your bottled mineral water taste weird.

    I wish that everyone could taste proper water, like the one from melting glaciers that you can drink straight from the stream :)

  40. murray
    Mattis, so true. The best waters I have had are from mountain streams in the Canadian Rockies, where I used to backpack regularly when I was younger. We never took water backpacking because the stream water was so good. Sadly, these days one has to be more careful of giardia (beaver fever).

    I find the chlorine taste overwhelming here in Toronto. Even our dog much prefers puddle water (on streets, in grass, in muck, with green slime on top) to tap water. He even laps mud slurry when we go through forest hills and its relatively dry. My wife often remarks, how can he drink like that and not get sick? Better than the alternative, according to my dog. One neat trick he does in the early morning is to run over a grass field with his head on the ground tilted, tongue lolling, so he licks up dew from the grass. Very funny to watch.

  41. Clintfu
    Per my co-worker: "That's because Mexican Coke tastes better."
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  43. Hector Perez
    I think Mexico's obesity problem is exactly for the same reasons of obesity pandemic and we're number one because Mexicans drink more sodas than other countries and eat tons of carbs. I'm a Mexican epidemiologist working in children's metabolic syndrome and I can tell you that one of the main obstacles we face here is educating dietitians, physicians and all the people in clinics and hospitals about the false fat culprit paradigm.
  44. James
    You'll must be somewhat clueless. A staple food consumed everyday by Mexicans is tortillas, both corn an flower. As well as extremely oily/grease foods. This combined with low enthusiasm in working out is the cause of the obesity.
  45. winterheat
    @Mezzo but you have to note that in some countries, gym is not a popular idea because people walk a lot. They do a lot more house work because people use less or don't use appliances such as vacuum cleaner or dish washing machines.
  46. Ro Oysterz
    Same as in India. More money to spend, and cheap crap flooding the market: biscuits, candies, chocolates, chips, vegetable oil everywhere, everything deep fried.

    Coke may be bad, but I sure do have a bad Coke Zero (no sugar) habit. And a bad Pepsi White (no caffeine, no sugar) habit.

    Oh and I'm always in deep ketosis above 2 mmol.

    So whatever.

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