In the fight against diabetes, lifestyle changes are hard to come by in Mexico.

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In the fight against diabetes, lifestyle changes are hard to come by in Mexico.

Suppose you want to run in Mexico City.

Dr Tonatiuh Barrientos, an epidemiologist at the national institute of public health in Mexico, thinks this is a good idea in theory. As a diabetes expert, he wants to see more people in the Mexican capital go out to fight the disease.

But as a runner, he knows Mexico City is not an easy place to jog. In a large city of 22 million people, only a few parks allow people to run.

“Look, this is a pretty crowded streets, this is a very noisy streets and its pollution,” Barry toth said, through special near lal pan is walking between his office and his family. “Now imagine trying to convince yourself to go for a run.”

Runners in Coyoacan, Mexico City’s Viveros wooded park. Mexico City has a few running friendly Spaces. Altitude is bad for exercise, air quality is often poor, and some runners wear masks. But health officials are urging people to exercise more.

Meghan Dhaliwal/NPR

It’s a tough sell. “I mean, the only thing you really need is on the sidewalk, you can’t run in the street, because you’re probably going to run away,” he said.

The pavement is an uneven mixture of broken concrete and pebbles. Street vendors have set up small tables and strollers to sell electrical appliances and Fried pork.

There are so many people who can’t even walk fast.

If you do manage to find a sidewalk, Mexico City’s altitude and smog and the chance of being robbed make it exciting.

“There are a lot of obstacles,” said barrientos, as he dodged the low canopy. “If you want to try running here, you need to deal with it.”

Professionally, Barrientos tracks the slow and steady growth of Mexico’s type 2 diabetes. About 14 million mexicans now have diabetes – almost three times the number who developed the disease in 1990.

Health officials have long believed that patients are responsible for changing their diet and exercising their daily lives, he said. They either did it or they didn’t. It is now clear, he said, one of the most serious health crisis in Mexico to a higher level of change, including the lobby healthier public places, let people can easily go out and exercise.

Sports equipment, often set up in parks such as Mexico City’s Tlalpan, encourages more active residents.

“How do we change the world and make healthy decisions much easier?” He asked.

Diabetes has mushroomed over the past 40 years, as the Mexican lifestyle has changed dramatically. A few generations ago, diabetes was almost unheard of in Mexico. According to the world health organization, it is now the leading cause of death. The Mexican people with their ancestors had a genetic quality that made them easier to develop than white people. But a key driver of type 2 diabetes in Mexico and around the world is still a person’s eating habits.

The current projections show that by 2030, 17% of all Mexican adults will have diabetes, according to the current projections.

“It certainly raises a lot of questions about sustainability,” he said. “If 17 percent of the population has diabetes, can you really maintain a public health system? Especially if you’re not prepared to control diabetes.”

Some epidemiologists predict that by 2050, half of all adults in the country may have diabetes in their lifetime.

In some cases, type 2 diabetes can be reversed by weight-loss surgery. Uncontrolled, metabolic disorders can have serious health consequences. It can lead to blindness, nerve damage, kidney failure and, in some cases, foot amputations.

Barry entos and others now say that Mexico’s focus on preventing diabetes needs to shift from a shameful individual to finding new government policies to address the growing health crisis.

“With tobacco, we’ve had the same problem for years, and we’re trying to encourage people to stop smoking, because if you don’t quit, you’re going to die!” He said. “The only time we’re starting to see real change is when we say, ‘we’re going to change the rules of the game.’ The more expensive you are, the less willing you are to spend your precious money on things that are bad for you. ”

The Centro Historico block in Mexico City sells a variety of Fried snacks and soft drinks.

To reduce soda consumption, in 2014 the government imposed a tax of 1 pesos per litre on sugary drinks, equivalent to about 10 cents for a standard 2 litre bottle.

Mexico was then the world’s leading consumer of carbonated drinks. In a 2015 regulatory filing, Coca-Cola said that more than 600 drinks a year were consumed in Mexico at 8 ounces per person per year. That means that the average Mexican drinks nearly two drinks a day. And that doesn’t count for hundreds of coke or other brands of soda consumption.

Alejandro Calvillo, head of El Poder del Consumidor, a consumer group, says soda is making mexicans sick.

Walking outside his office in Mexico City, he noted that almost every neighborhood had small shops selling coke and junk food. In fact, the red Coca-Cola logo has become a sign of the snack store.

“Coca-Cola has more than 1.5 million places to sell Coca-Cola in Mexico,” Calvillo said. “These products are everywhere.” Mr Calvero is one of the advocates behind the soda tax in 2014, although he wants a higher tax rate. He argues that higher taxes will lower consumption and that the government has more resources to deal with diabetes related lifestyles. “The government didn’t do anything,” he said. “it’s crazy.”

Like Barry entos, he says that if Mexico is to succeed in fighting diabetes, the rules of the game need to change.

However, his efforts to increase his soda tax have so far failed.

However, Jorge Terrazas, head of the Mexico City fizzy drinks industry association, said soda was unfairly blamed for the high incidence of obesity and diabetes in Mexico.

“There is no solid scientific evidence linking soft drinks to overweight,” he told NPR.

The average Mexican consumes far more calories per day than the world health organization recommended in 2000, and he says most of these calories come from things other than soda.

But anti-soda activists say sugar is an important part of the problem. They say a solution to the diabetes crisis in Mexico cannot be solved by simply changing the lifestyle of individuals.

Barrientos, an epidemiologist and runner, said the solution would require major changes in the way mexicans live, eat and exercise.

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