As More Latin Americans Eat Processed Food, Obesity Rates Surge

Nearly 60 percent of Latin Americans are overweight, according to a UN report

Latin America, once plagued by malnutrition, now faces a different type of public health crisis as processed food increasingly replaces traditionally prepared dishes, leading to a surge in obesity rates, a United Nations report showed on Thursday.

Nearly 58 percent of the region's inhabitants, or close to 360 million people, is either overweight or obese, said the report by the United Nations' Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO).

The rapid jump in obesity rates has crisscrossed the region, affecting Latin Americans "regardless of their economic situation, place of residence or ethnic origin," it said.

That has occurred partly as economic growth, increased urbanization, higher average incomes and the region's integration into international markets have reduced the consumption of traditionally prepared food and raised that of ultra-processed products, the report said.

The problem is greatest in countries that are net food importers.

The countries with the highest levels of obesity are the Bahamas, Mexico and Chile, with rates of 69 percent, 64 percent and 63 percent, respectively.

Still, even as obesity rates surge, Latin America is still home to the nation with the highest rate of undernourishment; in Haiti, 53 percent of the population is undernourished.

  • Published in World

PAHO anticipates cholera outbreak in Haiti

PORT AU PRINCE, Haiti (CMC) — The Pan American Health Organisation (PAHO), has warned that acute diarrheal diseases, including cholera are threatening the population.

Dr Jean Luc Poncelet, PAHO’s Representative in Haitu, said the organisation has set up field operations with the country’s Ministry of Health in the towns of Jeremie and Les Cayes.

“Hurricane Matthew has devastated parts of the country, in the Southwest, it is estimated that 80 percent of the houses have lost their roofs, and most hospitals suffered major damages. At least 100 facilities have lost their ability to function,” Poncelet said.

“Before the hurricane, we had serious problems of access to health, water and sanitation, and cases of cholera,” he added. “So when the water supply is interrupted, cholera will increase. We are seriously concerned about an epidemic of cholera, and that’s why the Ministry of Health with our assistance is taking all measures possible to avoid that happening.”

To date, multinational teams of experts have been deployed to support the government’s efforts against cholera outbreaks. Groups were sent to Jeremie, Les Cayes and Port-au-Prince to support humanitarian operations and restore the capacity of health services and systems.

Poncelet said PAHO is working with the Haitian Ministry of Health to increase the availability of medicines and medical supplies, and cooperating in the organization and planning of the health response to possible outbreaks.

Experts in emergencies and disasters, health services, epidemiological surveillance, logistics, transport and communication have been deployed from PAHO’s Haiti office, its Washington headquarters, and other offices.

With scattered outbreaks of cholera confirmed and in anticipation of an increase in the number of cases, on Sunday, PAHO sent shipments of cholera kits containing oral rehydration solutions, catheters and water chlorination treatments to attend patients with acute diarrhea and cholera.

Poncelet said donations have already started to pour into Haiti, with a French cargo jet arriving on Tuesday with 69 tons of supplies.

France’s Ambassador to Haiti, Elisabeth Beton said her government was interested in collaborating with Haiti’s national response, and sent two water purification stations, for emergency situations, six units for basic sanitation and hygiene, 13 tons of medical and first aid supplies, and cholera treatment kits, PAHO said.

Haiti’s Minister of External Relations and Culture Pierrot Delienne thanked the international community for the donations, and the European Union’s ambassador in Haiti said the donation resulted from good coordination between PAHO and national and international officials.

PAHO also said a Dutch ship arrived with supplies and experts to rehabilitate hospitals.

Additionally, shipments of donations from Colombia and the Dominican Republic, among others, have arrived in the French-speaking Caribbean country.

  • Published in World

President Raúl Castro Receives PAHO Director Carissa Etienne

President Raúl Castro met Friday in Havana with Director General of the Pan-American Health Organization (PAHO) Carissa Etienne, who is on a working visit to Cuba to preside over the subregional meeting of PAHO representatives in Central America, Haiti, Mexico, Dominican Republic and Cuba.

During the cordial exchange, the Cuban president and the top PAHO official spoke about the current epidemiological situation in the Americas, Cuba's national plan to confront and stop the spread of Zika virus, and the importance of Cuba's international health cooperation worldwide.

  • Published in Now

PAHO/WHO Praise Cuba's Health Cooperation with Other Peoples Worldwide

Dr. Carissa F. Etienne, Director of the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), has sent the Cuban government and people a congratulatory message for Cuba's health cooperation with other peoples of the world.

In a video screened at a ceremony here in Havana to mark December 3rd –- the Day of Latin American Medicine -- Dr. Etienne praised what she described as the long and fruitful history of Cuban medical internationalism, which dates back to 1960 with the arrival in Chile of the first Cuban health brigade, in the wake of a devastating earthquake there.

The UN official stressed that over the past 55 years, Cuban health brigades have traveled to more than 150 countries the world over to assist people in poor, remote and under-served communities, as well as victims of disasters and emergency situations, like the recent Ebola outbreak in West Africa.

The director of PAHO also praised the results of the country's program to train health professionals from other countries, including the Havana-based Latin American School of Medicine, founded by Cuban Revolution leader Fidel Castro.

The Day of Latin American Medicine is observed every year on December 3rd, to pay tribute to eminent Cuban scientist Carlos Juan Finlay, who back in 1881 discovered the carrier of yellow fever.

  • Published in Now

PAHO Expert Praises Cuba's Achievements in Mother-Child Care

Dr. Pablo Duran, Neonatal Alliance Coordinator for Latin America and the Caribbean, praised in this capital Cuba's results in public health, especially in the neonatal, child and mother sector, calling it an example in the region.

In an exclusive interview with ACN, Duran, who works at the Latin American Center for Perinatology of the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) in Montevideo, Uruguay, stressed the universal access and quality care offered by health professionals in the Caribbean nation from the first level of care.

He also commended the performance of these committed human resources who work not only in Cuba but also in various parts of the world where they share their experience, knowledge and comprehensive care.

The PAHO expert, a participant in the 2015 Nursing Congress that winds up today at Havana's Convention Center, said that Cuba, with 4.2 deaths per every thousand live births in 2014, is the country of Latin America and the Caribbean with the lowest infant mortality rate.

Duran highlighted that Cuba is actively involved in activities of cooperation with other states with respect to the health of newborns and women, as well as the training of human resources in this field, through training workshops.

  • Published in Cuba
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