Approximately one-third of the world’s adult population is overweight or obese, which places individuals at greater risk for cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and certain cancers. If current trends continue, nearly 60% of adults worldwide will be overweight or obese by 2030. Low- and middle-income countries are projected to bear the brunt of this increase.
TAKING NECESSARY ACTION ON OBESITY
Over 2 billion people – approximately 30% of the world’s population – are overweight or obese. In 2010, 3.4 million deaths resulted from overweight and obesity which places individuals at greater risk for cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and certain cancers. Over 60% of all obese individuals live in low- and middle-income countries.
Being overweight or obese is preventable. Bloomberg Philanthropies is addressing this global epidemic by identifying, implementing and evaluating policies that aim to halt, and ideally reverse, rising obesity levels. Bloomberg Philanthropies launched the Obesity Prevention Program in Mexico and if proven successful, these policies can be replicated in other low- and middle-income countries.
BACKING POLICY PROGRESS IN MEXICO
More than 70% of adults in Mexico are overweight or obese, as are 34% of children between the ages of 5 and 11 years. Among adults, being overweight and obese is the second leading risk factor for death in Mexico. Furthermore, a recent study shows that among the world’s 15 most populous countries, Mexico has the highest rate of death due to consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages, which are a leading cause of obesity. Reducing consumption of these sugary drinks could save lives.
Bloomberg Philanthropies’ Obesity Prevention Program is helping to address this public health crisis by partnering with top research and advocacy organizations to raise awareness of the problem and support solutions. Obesity prevention policies that evidence suggests could have the most impact include:
• Banning junk food and sugary beverage advertising to children
• Raising taxes on sugar-sweetened beverages
• Promoting healthy public sector food policies
• Introducing understandable front-of-package nutrition labels
• Developing obesity prevention advertising campaigns
HOW THE OBESITY PREVENTION PROGRAM IS LAYING THE FOUNDATION FOR POLICY REFORM IN MEXICO:
Our program partners created subway advertising campaigns in Mexico City depicting the negative effects of obesity. The Director of the Latin American Office of the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations praised the ads and called for their replication across Latin America.
SPREADING THE WORD:
Our program partners are driving public discussion about the negative effects of obesity and the growing obesity epidemic by increasing media coverage. To date, their efforts have resulted in nearly 800 obesity prevention media stories.
CONDUCTING GROUNDBREAKING RESEARCH:
Studies conducted by our program partners generated new evidence around the economic and health impacts of soda taxation, the magnitude of children’s exposure to food and beverage advertising, and the types of food and beverages available in schools.
In the fall of 2013, our partners helped Mexico’s President Enrique Peña Nieto propose a new tax on sugar-sweetened beverages. We acted quickly to fund aggressive media campaigns in support of the tax. In November 2013, Mexico’s Congress officially passed a 10% tax on sugar-sweetened beverages and an 8% tax on junk food, and the majority of the revenue has been dedicated to obesity prevention programs.
The Bloomberg Philanthropies Obesity Prevention Program will continue to work with both public and private partners in Mexico to ensure that obesity prevention remains a topic of public discussion and policy focus. Successful strategies for combating rising rates of obesity will be widely shared with other low- and middle-income countries.
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