The number of overweight and obese people is continually increasing all across the world.
Mexico, in particular, is currently at the top of the list with 32.8% of their population currently obese – that’s every third person you see on the street! In response to this unhealthy global trend, the Mexican government as well as many others have started to take action against obesity. Here are some of their more "creative" initiatives:
1. Sugar drink tax (Mexico)
Back in 2014, Mexico introduced a one peso per litre tax on sugary drinks across the country which raised prices by around 10 percent. If you think that the Mexican government’s intervention sounds crazy, the good news is that the results turned out to be promising. In the first year of effect, purchases of sugary drinks decreased by around six percent.
2. Squat for a free ticket (Mexico)
It doesn’t stop there for the Mexican government though. Over in Secretaria de Salud, Mexico City, they have installed 30 motion-sensitive machines at subway stations that will each dispense a free ticket to anyone who completes 10 squats. Although 10 squats doesn’t seem like very much, the hope is that it will get people moving and want to do even more afterwards.
3. Squat even more for a ticket (Russia)
Over in Russia, 10 squats isn’t nearly enough. A similar “squat for a free ticket” system was installed in the Moscow underground asking people to squat 30 times. Although the stunt was only in place to promote fitness awareness for the Sochi Winter Olympics, 30 squats is much closer to what you would do in a workout set.
4. Lose weight for gold (United Arab Emirates)
If a free ticket on public transport isn’t enough to get you moving, the authorities in Dubai offered their citizens an even more enticing offer back in 2013. Coinciding with the holy month of Ramadhan, they offered people one gram of gold for every kilogram that they lost. Would that get you out of your seat and onto the treadmill?
Even though some of these fun and creative ideas may sound a little audacious, they are a step in the right direction as they do raise awareness on the importance of moving. At the end of the day, every individual has to realise and feel the benefits of physical movement in order to stick with it in the long term.
Being the ”biggest” nation in Southeast Asia with 49% of women and 44% of men obese, maybe Malaysia could benefit from a healthy initiative too. At the very least, we could certainly benefit from some of these “squat for a ticket” machines. We like to squat in our everyday anyway - we just need to do them more often as exercise!
In the meantime, there’s no point in waiting. You can make a start by integrating movement into your day as much as possible. For example, you could use the stairs instead of the elevator, park your car a little further away, walk rather than drive if the distance that you need to travel is only a few hundred metres away and break up your day with some movements. These actions may seem small in nature, but they will all add up to help you maintain good physical and mental energy levels throughout the day.