A few months ago, education officials in Mexico took a bold step in the battle against childhood obesity by deciding to ban all junk food and soft drink sales to kids while in school. Out went high-fat foods like pork rinds and sugary sodas and juice drinks and in came fruits, veggies, and 100 percent fruit juices. But will it make a difference?
According to data compiled by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, Mexico has the highest obesity rate for an industrialized nation in the entire world. In Mexico, 30 percent of the adult population is obese and 70 percent is overweight (compared to 28 and 68 percent in the U.S.). Thirty-one percent of children in Mexico are considered overweight.
So last year, Mexico's education administrators decided to set limits on what could be sold in schools at recess. Mexican schools don't provide lunch, but many do allow vendors to sell food to kids at recess. According to Mexico's Education Minister, the new rules remove 90 percent of fried foods from these sales.
The new rules went into effect in Mexico on Jan. 1, so it's still too soon to know if they will have an overall effect on the health of Mexico's children, but according to Mexico's Helath Minister, Dr. José Angel Córdova, "We managed to do the most important things, which was to pull out the soft drinks and to get the composition of foods changed." And that is certainly a very good start.