REUTERS – Daniela was 11 years old when a doctor told her she would not live more than another six or seven years. Weighing 75 kilos (165 lb), about twice the recommended weight for her age, the Mexican girl had just suffered a minor heart attack.
That was two years ago. She still remembers the pain in her chest. Then she was also diagnosed with diabetes. Daniela knows the disease well: she watched eight family members die from its complications.
“The doctor told me that I’ll die, that I’ll not even turn 18 years old,” she said at her home in Texcoco, in the outskirts of the Mexican capital. Now Daniela is 14 years old and weighs 81 kilos.
Reuters was unable to contact the doctor, who treated Daniela at a different facility previously, but her current caseworker confirmed Daniela’s account.
“Instead of losing weight, I put on more,” she said.
Daniela is one of about 150 girls and boys treated by doctors, nutritionists and psychologists at the Hospital Infantil de Mexico Federico Gomez in Mexico City over the past 12 years.
The girl and seven others agreed to speak to Reuters in the presence of their mothers and a healthcare worker about their struggles to control health problems and lose weight.
Reuters also spoke to four adults about their long-term struggles with obesity since childhood, one of whom has since died of complications from diabetes.
Reuters agreed not to publish their surnames or pictures that would reveal their identities because almost all are minors and some, including Daniela, are considered vulnerable by the clinic.
Despite efforts to limit sales of junk food to children and tax consumption of sugary drinks, Mexico’s diabetes problem is worsening.
In two years, the proportion of the population suffering from the disease jumped a full percentage point to 10.3% – one of the highest rates in the world – as more than a decade of poor eating habits started to be reflected in government statistics … Click here to read more.
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