In the name of World Health Day, organizations of the Health Food Alliance protested in front of the Health Secretariat and inflated a huge can of soda five meters high, with the logo reading “diabetes,” to demand urgent action from the agency against diabetes.
The protesters blame the Coca-Cola Company because 70 percent of the consumption of “added sugar” in Mexican diets comes from sugary drinks.
Alejandro Calvillo, director of Consumer Power, a member organization of the Health Food Alliance, said that 10 million Mexicans suffer from diabetes and 1 in 3 children will develop the disease throughout their lives, while around 24,000 people die each year from consumption of sugary drinks, of these 21,000 occur from diabetes.
“We ask the Health Secretariat for a national campaign to warn of the risk posed by the regular consumption of these drinks,” he said.
Calvillo demanded the corresponding authorities oblige drink manufacturers to stamp a warning label of the risks of these drinks, that they are effectively taken out of all schools, and that children be protected in advertising, regarding all media and times they are exposed.
“In Mexico diabetes is a public health problem that requires urgent attention. In 1980 it was the ninth leading cause of death and in only 20 years has become the first. In 2012, 83,000 premature deaths due to diabetes were recorded,” said Fiorella Espinosa, research coordinator for Consumer Power.
For his part, Luis Manuel Encarnación, coordinator of the ContraPESO Coalition, another member of the Food Health Alliance, said, “On this World Health Day, demand that the government implement comprehensive policies to protect the rights of the population from damages resulting from the consumption of sugary drinks, such as diabetes.”
The industry campaign against taxation of sugary drinks has only one reason: it is the only measure to decrease its sales expectations.
The tax will be efficient if it is reinforced and accompanied by other policies on advertising, labeling, unavailability in schools and mass information campaigns about the risks described by these measures.
It has been shown that countries with greater availability of high fructose corn syrup (the sweetener used in Mexico for such drinks) have around a 20 percent higher prevalence of type 2 diabetes, independent of obesity figures.
For this reason and because of the importance for the country, they say it is urgent that health authorities strengthen measures to reduce consumption of sugary drinks among the population, as it is a cost-effective preventive action.