Mexico fights obesity with ban on junk food in schools

This is on today's Telegraph... thanks Richard for posting this...

Mexico has banned the sale of junk food in its schools in an attempt to fight the growing problem of childhood obesity.

As well as modern soft drinks and sweets, traditional treats such as salted tamarind candy and pork rinds will be cut from school menus.
The new anti-obesity guidelines were presented by health and education officials this week.
They recommend banning tortas - the often overstuffed, greasy, meat-packed sandwiches popular in Mexico - with the exception of "lighter" versions made with beans, avocado and cheese, or chicken-and-vegetables. Only low-fat tacos, burritos and salads will be allowed.
The Health Department said it hoped to have the rules in place when the next school year starts in August. The rules must still be approved by experts and a review committee. The guidelines would cover all 220,000 public and private primary and middle schools serving 25 million students.
President Felipe Calderon launched a nationwide anti-obesity campaign in January, saying the incidence of obesity among youngsters had tripled in Mexico over the last three decades. "Unfortunately, we are the country with the biggest problem of childhood obesity in the entire world," he said.
About 4.5 million Mexican children between the ages of 5 and 11 are overweight. About 26 per cent of all Mexican children are overweight.
Experts say one reason obesity has accelerated is the invasion of US-style soft drinks and snack foods. While schoolchildren once ate fruit sprinkled with lime and salt, and drank fruit juices, those harder-to-prepare foods had been replaced with prepackaged foods.
The overweight problem is compounded because some of Mexico's population of 107 million have a genetic tendency to develop diabetes.
Mexican schools usually don't have cafeterias. So, for decades, children have swarmed around vendors - school employees, cooperatives or food stand operators - who sell sweets and other goodies on the school grounds.
Under the new guidelines only water, unsweetened but flavored water, or pure fruit juices will be sold in schools. No soft drinks or sugary fruit drinks, and only low-fat milk, will be allowed.

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