Sponsored Project

El Susto

Karen Akins
Karen Akins

When a group of  nurses travel to Mexico to screen locals for diabetes in the Yucatan, they are alarmed by the prevalence of the disease.  Diabetes rates have risen dramatically, doubling every 10 years, and it is now  the leading cause of death in Mexico.The volunteers see the connection between diabetes and sugary drinks. They learn that this region of Mexico has the highest per capita consumption of Coca Cola in the world.  They hear stories of excessive Coke consumption, including babies being fed Coke in their bottles, and see the connection between Coke consumption and lack of potable water.  Mexican health activists form an alliance to push for a national soda tax to curb the excessive consumption.  A David and Goliath battle ensues between the politically powerful beverage industry  and the soda tax advocates.  Mexico becomes a world leader by passing a national soda tax, but the opponents push back.  Several soda tax proponents receive mysterious, sometimes threatening texts, which are designed to install spyware on their phones.  When the public health community learns the hacks came from government owned spyware, they realize that they must fight not just powerful corporate interests but also their allies in government.

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