The U.S. has finally lost its dubious honour of having the world’s highest number of overweight and obese people.
Fuelled by a worsening diet of fizzy drinks and cheap fast food restaurants, Mexico has now become the fattest nation in the world.
Around 70 per cent of Mexican adults are now overweight and a third of them are obese, causing a range of serious health problems.
Once reserved for special occasions, many Mexicans with sedentary jobs are now indulging daily in fat-heavy tacos, tamales and quesadillas, as well as American fast food.
Mexico may still be battling malnutrition and hunger among some of its poor but now it is also managing to claim the largest number of overweight people, according to a UN report.
Experts say four fifths of overweight children will remain so their entire lives.
Abelardo Avila from Mexico’s National Nutrition Institute said: ‘The worst thing is the children are becoming programmed for obesity.’
The United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) announced two years ago that the national weight gain had reached emergency levels, but it has proved difficult for the authorities to tackle.
Part of the difficulty is that the crisis has taken hold rapidly – In 1989, fewer than 10 percent of Mexican adults had any weight problems.
Studies show that Mexicans are eating more processed foods than ever before and fewer whole grains and vegetables.
This year was the first time Mexico has inched ahead into first place, with a 32.8 per cent obesity rate to America’s 31.8 per cent.
However, this was only among the most populated countries of the world.
Both Mexico and the U.S. have nothing on the small countries such as American Samoa in the Pacific where the rate of overweight inhabitants has now reached 95 per cent.
Islanders living on the beautiful American Samoa archipelago are officially the fattest in the world, according to World Health Organisation figures.
Being overweight can result in a catalogue of chronic diseases and health complications, including hypertension and heart disease, diabetes and subsequent renal failure and liver disease.
It is also linked the asthma, cancer, depression, stroke and problems with digestion.
The number of people with obesity-related diabetes is expected to double to 300 million between 1998 and 2025.