Campaigners take on Mexican drinks industry

Jarritos Guava Mexican SodaIn Mexico, where soft drinks consumption is second only to the USA, where the obesity rate is even greater than the USA, and where diabetes is now the second-biggest killer after heart disease, a new campaign has taken root.

El Poder del Consumidor (‘The Consumer’s Power’), a public-interest group in Mexico City, has kicked off a crusade to warn people of the dangers of drinking too much pop.

A series of posters have been plastered in public places including subway platforms, billboards and buses. One of the ads features a big bottle of fizzy drink alongside 12 heaped spoons of sugar, with the question “Would you eat 12 spoonfuls of sugar? Why do you drink soda?”.

Other, more shocking, adverts in the campaign feature images of amputees and a blind man, with slogans asking how much of a role sugary drinks may have played in causing the conditions.

The Director of El Poder del Consumidor, Alejandro Calvillo, does seem to have a valid point in wanting to break the hold the Mexican drinks industry has over the population.

Studies have found that the marketing of fizzy drinks in Mexico has been so staggeringly successful in recent years that the average calorie intage from beverages doubled between 1999 and 2006 – and now the average Mexican drinks more than 12 ounces (350ml) of sugar-laden soft drinks every day.

This dramatic rise in fizzy drink consumption has coincided with an epidemic of diabetes that has seen 10 million Mexicans – or around 9% of the population – develop the condition.

Mexico is not alone in seeking to crack down on this problem. The American food and drink industry has also been under scrutiny, with New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg having launched a similar campaign while in office. And the Colombian Health Ministry is also now looking at ways to reduce soft drink consumption in the light of rising obesity rates.

One thing seems certain – with Latin America being Coca-Cola’s second most profitable region in the world, the ‘anti-soda’ campaigners are bound to have a battle on their hands.


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