Health experts in Mexico have warned that the country is facing a public health crisis from diabetes and diabetes-related illnesses.
Latest government figures show that between 6.5 million and 10 million Mexicans suffer from either type 1 or type 2 diabetes, including 400,000 people under the age of 15, while a fifth of all Mexican women and more than a quarter of men are believed to be at risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
In addition, the metabolic disease is responsible for some 70,000 deaths in the country each year, making it the nation’s number one killer.
Public health officials say the rise in type 2 diabetes rates is due largely to lifestyle changes that have made Mexicans more obese than any other population, except the United States.
These changes, which include a switch to high-fat junk food, higher intake of carbonated or sugary beverages and a lack of physical activity, have led to a three-fold increase in national obesity levels over the past three decades, with 64 per cent of men, 82 per cent of women and 34.4 per cent of children in Mexico now overweight or obese.
Meanwhile, the hike in diabetes cases has led to many people developing related complications such as blindness and kidney failure.
According to Dr. Abelardo Avila Curiel, a physician and expert in population studies at the Salvador Zubiran National Institute of Medical Sciences and Nutrition, around 150,000 Mexicans currently receive kidney dialysis, but nearly the same number are denied treatment due to a lack of health insurance.
“When we project the increase in diabetes and the costs associated with it, the Mexican health system will be overwhelmed. It can’t be paid for,” Dr Avila warned.
“By the year 2020, it will be catastrophic. By 2030, it faces collapse.”

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