It’s not just the residents of the USA that have gone beyond pleasingly plump to downright fat. Partly because of the junk food and sodas we produce in the fattest country spreading to the rest of the hemisphere and the countries of Latin America buying more automobiles, obesity is spreading fast.

This chart of projections for Latin Americans, published in Latin Trade pretty much sums it up:

Latin Americans fat

As the Obesity Alarm Bells article accompanying the graph says, “Brazil and Mexico are the most alarming cases, since they are in sixth and seventh place, respectively, in the group of nine countries in which half of the world’s obese people are found (together with China, the United States, Germany, India, Russia, Indonesia and Turkey).”

fat latin americansIn a separate report released recently, it came out that Mexicans have overtaken the yankees as the most obese people in the world, by percentage. Many have questioned the research on this: a simple visit to any U.S. Walmart compared to a visit to any Mexican Walmart will show you that the fat people in the USA are really fat compared to to fat Mexicans. The figures seem to be within a margin of error anyway: “Mexico has a 32.8 percent adult obesity rate — just above America’s 31.8 percent.”

As in the USA, obesity rates are worse among the poor, and worse where people don’t walk as much. In my new home base of Guanajuato, you don’t see all that many obese people because almost the whole center of the city is designed for pedestrians and there are a lot of hills. When you visit a flat city where most people get around by car, however, it’s a different story. Mexicans are big snackers, usually on food that’s far from healthy, so if they’re not working it off it turns into fat quickly. The “muffin top” look is the most obvious outcome: a bulging midriff hanging over too-tight jeans.

If you’ve ever visited an OXXO convenience store, it’s easy to see one factor that’s fueling the unhealthy eating habits. About the only things you can find in the store that won’t contribute to heart disease and diabetes are nuts and (if you’re lucky), a basket of bananas for sale.

What do you think, based on your travels in Mexico and the USA? Does this research seem accurate?