In Diabetes Fight, Lifestyle Changes Prove Hard To Come By In Mexico
Let's say you'd like to go for a run in Mexico City.
Dr. Tonatiuh Barrientos, an epidemiologist with Mexico's National Institute of Public Health, thinks that's a good idea — in theory. An expert on diabetes, he'd like to see more people in the Mexican capital get out and exercise to combat the disease.
But as a runner himself, he knows that Mexico City isn't an easy place to jog. In a metropolis of 22 million, there are only a handful of parks where people can run.
"Look, this is a fairly crowded street. It's a pretty noisy street. It's polluted," Barrientos says walking through the Tlalpan neighborhood that lies between his office and his home. "Now just imagine trying to convince yourself to get out there and run."
It's a tough sell. "I mean the only place for you to really run is on the sidewalk. You can't run on the street because you'll probably get run over," he says.
The sidewalk is an uneven mix of broken cement slabs and cobblestones. Street vendors have set up little tables and carts to sell everything from electrical supplies to fried pork cracklings.
There are so many people that it's hard to even walk at a fast clip.
And if you do manage to find a stretch of sidewalk, the elevation in Mexico City combined with the smog and the chances of getting mugged make running a hard thing to get excited about.
"There are a lot of obstacles," Barrientos says as he dodges his way past low-hanging awnings. "And you need to deal with that if you wanted to try to run here."
Professionally, Barrientos has tracked the slow, steady rise in Type 2 diabetes in Mexico. Roughly 14 Continue reading