Tackling Mexico’s overweight cops
PROGRAMME: MORE THAN 1 000 OFFICERS ENROLLED
It’s a sunny morning in Mexico City, and police officers drip with sweat as they do push-ups and squats, part of a programme for overweight cops in one of the world’s most obese countries.
The two dozen officers grimacing through their workout on the pavement of the station house yard – most with round bellies bulging beneath their drenched T-shirts – are just a handful of the more than 1 000 across the capital who have enrolled in the programme, “Healthy Police”.
They get a bonus of 1 000 pesos (about R720) a month to participate – though judging by the looks on their faces as their instructor shouts encouragement to finish one more set, some of them seem to doubt whether it’s worth it.
But those who stick with the programme, which was launched three months ago, say it can be life-changing.
“This was all completely new to me. The first month was tough, both mentally and physically,” said one, Mauricio Barrera.
“But the programme has helped me understand that obesity is an illness,” the 26-year-old said.
Barrera, who now looks fit and trim, cracked a grin when he revealed how much weight he has lost since he started: 16 kilos.
“This programme is a way to fight the obesity problem we have in Mexico, the sedentary lifestyle,” said Javier Ramirez, the buff fitness instructor guiding the beat cops through their routine.
Three-quarters of adults in Mexico are overweight or obese, according to national statistics.
Its obesity rate – nearly onethird of the adult population – is second only to the United States in the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development, a 36-member group of developed countries.
Mexico’s obesity epidemic is driving high rates of diabetes and heart disease, according to public health experts.