Wow. “The Coca-Colization of Mexico” is a fantastic piece of photojournalism that shows the very real public health effects of Big Soda’s global outreach (what they like to call “emerging markets”).
One excerpt that stood out to us:
“That´s why Chiapas is the best example of what has become known as “Coca-Colization”,or the invasion of the soft drinks. While maybe not the only cause of what experts term as “the new war of the twenty-first century” or the obesity epidemic, it is clearly one of the main reasons why in Mexico, according to expert studies, 70% of the population is overweight and 30% of them are obese.
Yet for UN Food Program spokesperson Oliver de Schutter, the point where a marked change in the Mexicans’ food habits and also an increase in sugar and processed fats intake occurred, is when on the first of January 1994 The North American Free Trade Act was signed. Food imports soared and, in just a decade, Coke consumption doubled among children, according to Schutter.
“Many schools, not only in Chiapas or Yucatan where the problem is more apparent, but also in the metropolitan area of the Mexican capital, haven´t got drinkable water and the children hydrate with soft drinks. This is a horrible problem”, points out Dr. Abelardo Avila. “I have even seen mothers who fill their baby bottles with Coca-Cola”, he adds. Also, schools have been converted into “junk-food paradises” even though their sale has already been prohibited. You only need to go to the schools´ entrances to see that what used to be sold inside, now has moved outside. “Right, during a few months we couldn’t sell” – says Señora Juana while she loads her small carriage with sweets at a centrally located school near the capital –“ but now there´s no problem”.
This is precisely the type of issue we believe the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics should bring to light (at conferences and to the media). It would certainly position the Academy as a thought leader, rather than as an organization that asks “How high?” when Big Soda says: “Jump!”.