Mexico is blaming its obesity crisis for a surging coronavirus death toll as the country prepares to overtake the UK in recording the fourth highest number of fatalities in the world.
The Central American country ranks first in the world for its levels of obesity, thought to play a significant role in pushing up death rates among patients with Covid-19.
Andrés Manuel López Obrador, the country’s Leftist president, has blamed food and drink companies for leaving the population susceptible to serious coronavirus illness through pre-existing conditions.
But critics also accuse the president of mismanaging the epidemic, dismissing the danger of the virus, reopening the economy too quickly and aiding a cover-up of official figures.
Mexico has about 395,000 positive cases and has recorded 44,022 Covid-19 deaths, to the UK’s 45,759. The country’s death toll is still rising by about 350 a day, compared to the UK’s 14.
About 70 per cent of the Covid-19 dead were people with obesity, diabetes and/or high blood pressure, according to Hugo López-Gatell, leading Mexico’s coronavirus strategy, who blames the sugary drinks and processed food companies.
Until 2018, Mexico was second — behind the United States — in overweight and obesity levels amongst OECD members. The OECD estimates that 73 per cent of Mexico’s population is overweight and 34 per cent is morbidly obese, which means about 92.7 million people with some pre-existing condition.
Mr López-Gatell said on Saturday described sugary drinks as “bottled poison”, arguing that if Mexicans consumed less the impact of any virus on the population would be mitigated
He suggested the government would step in with reforms aimed at reining in the industry. “[Poor diet] is a Public Health issue that requires attention and that we are determined to face by taking away the well known conflicts of interest” between previous governments and the industry, he said.
Mexico already introduced a tax on sugary drinks and junk food in 2014 and a labeling law indicating excessive amounts of ingredients, expected to take effect in October.
But the Mexican government has been accused of using the obesity crisis to mask its failures in dealing with the coronavirus pandemic.
Despite climbing new daily cases and deaths, president Lopez Obrador has claimed Mexico “flattened the curve”.
Meanwhile numerous studies have suggested that Mexico’s actual death toll may be far higher, with researchers claiming the country has been grossly underestimating the official figures by tens of thousands of deaths.
Opposition accuse Mr Lopez Obrador, who has close links to Jeremy Corbyn, of using the emergency to dismantle institutions and install an authoritarian rule. He has downplayed the effectiveness of face masks.
Source: The Telegraph