How Diabetes Got To Be The No. 1 Killer In Mexico
Mario Alberto Maciel Tinajero looks like a fairly healthy 68-year-old. He has a few extra pounds on his chest but he's relatively fit. Yet he's suffered for the last 20 years from what he calls a "terrible" condition: diabetes.
"I've never gotten used to this disease," he says. Maciel runs a stall in the Lagunilla market in downtown Mexico City. This market is famous for its custom-made quinceañera dresses and hand-tailored suits.
Diabetes has come to dominate Maciel's life. It claimed the life of his mother. He has to take pills and injections every day to keep it under control.
And because of the disease he's supposed to eat a diet heavy in vegetables that he views as inconvenient and bland. "Imagine not being able to eat a carnitas taco!" he says with indignation. His doctors have told him to stop eating the steaming hot street food that's for sale all around the market — tacos, tamales, quesadillas, fat sandwiches called tortas. His eyes light up when talks about the roast pork taquitos and simmering beef barbacoa that he's supposed to stay away from.
"A person who has to work 8 or 10 hours has to eat what's at hand, what's available," he says. "It's difficult to follow a diabetic diet. The truth is it's very difficult."
Diabetes is the leading cause of death in Mexico, according to the World Health Organization. The disease claims nearly 80,000 lives each year, and forecasters say the health problem is expected to get worse in the decades to come. By contrast, in the U.S. it's the sixth leading cause of death, with heart disease and cancer claiming 10 times more Ame Continue reading