Friday, April 23, 2010

Mexico Faces Soaring Childhood Obesity Rate

“Mexican health officials say overeating and poor dietary habits have contributed to a fast-rising childhood obesity rate, behind only the United States for highest in the world. One-quarter of all school-age Mexicans, and more than one-third of adolescents, are overweight or obese. (More than two-thirds of grownups are too heavy.) Mexico, whose biggest food worry used to be hunger, finds itself in a quandary over how to get its children to lay off the chicharrones and exercise more. It turns out that those two goals are more complicated than they sound. The lower house of Mexico's Congress ignited debate last week when it passed legislation aimed at reducing the amount of nonnutritious food sold in schools. A related measure would require schools to ensure that pupils get 30 minutes of exercise each day. Complicating matters, federal education officials said it would be next to impossible to provide Mexico's 25 million schoolchildren with 30 minutes of daily exercise because space at most public schools is tight and the day is already short. Public elementary schools are in session just 4 1/2 hours a day, and 30 minutes of that is already taken up by recess. ‘If we devote another half hour solely to physical activity, then we have 3 1/2 hours,’ Education Secretary Alonso Lujambio said in a recent radio interview. ‘We won't be able to complete the curriculum.’ Then too, the politically powerful national teachers union blasted the exercise requirement as ‘authoritarian.’”,0,493204.story

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