The Mexicans dying for a fizzy drink

Obese woman, and woman holding soft drink, MexicoImage copyright

Mexicans consume more carbonated drinks than any other nation per head of population, and the country has one of the world’s highest rates of childhood obesity. Two years ago the government introduced a tax on sugary drinks – but is it working?

Silvia Segura lives in a poor neighbourhood on the outskirts of Merida, in Mexico’s Yucatan state. She invites us into her modest house. Three armchairs face a television and a ghetto-blaster turned up high with Mexican music blaring out.

On the walls are hooks with hammocks hanging from them. These are where the family sleeps – they are more comfortable than beds in the region’s baking climate.

In the living room, however, a double bed stands in the middle of the floor. Silvia says this was her mother’s bed after she became too ill to climb into a hammock. She died recently because of complications caused by type-two diabetes – but until the end, Silvia says, her appetite for sugary drinks never left her.

“All my family drinks coca-cola,” says Silvia. “My mother, may she rest in peace, was a true cocacolera – she couldn’t live without it, she’d drink it three times a day if she could. She said it kept her alive.”

When her mother went into hospital, “we’d smuggle the coke in and give her some sips,” Silvia says.

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