US No Longer Fattest Country; Mexico Now No. 1

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And the country’s obesity problem is only likely to get worse.

Former President Felipe Calderon announced in 2011 that Mexico had the highest rate of obesityfor children ages 5 to 19 in the world.

More than 28 percent of children between 5 and 9, and 38 percent of preteens and teenagers ages 10 to 19, are overweight or obese, according to statistics from the Mexican Social Security Institute.

“Obesity and excess weight are multi-factor problems,” Labastida said, “so they have to be approached from several perspectives, through advertising campaigns as intense as the ones people are subjected to every day for food products that aren’t very recommendable.”

Garcia’s consumer group is working to try to get more accurate labeling standards for snack foods, whose contents and portion sizes are often unclear.

“There is a lack of regulation in Mexico, especially in labeling,” Garcia said.

While Mexico instituted guidelines in 2010 and 2011 to try to get the worst junk food out of Mexican schools, the results have been uneven.

“They sell smaller packages, but that accomplishes nothing, because kids can just buy more packages,” Garcia said.

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