A total of 89,414 people are projected to die this year of diabetes in Mexico, up 92 per cent from the year 2000, health activists and experts said.

In a press conference, the director of the consumer-advocacy group The Power of the Consumer, Alejandro Calvillo, presented a study based on research, official data and experts’ figures on this year’s outlook for obesity and diabetes.

The activist said the high mortality rate for diabetes in Mexico is “in large part due to a lack of prevention and medical care policies, as well as poor treatment provided to patients.”

According to the study, one of the goals established in the 2007-2012 National Health Program was to achieve a 20 per cent drop in the growth of the death rate due to diabetes mellitus from the level registered in the 1995-2006 period, which was 4.9 per cent per year.

That goal meant lowering the annual growth in the death rate to 3.9 per cent for the 2007-2012 period. However, according to a report from President Felipe Calderon’s government on September 1, 2010, the number of deaths from diabetes had risen by an average annual rate of 4.1.

“Calderon’s policies have failed and if no progress is made in the next six-year period, the human and financial cost will continue to worsen. The challenge lies in the next administration,” Calvillo said.

According to the activist, in the six-year term of outgoing President Felipe Calderon, diabetes was responsible for 482,654 deaths, an increase of 35 per cent over the six-year tenure of predecessor Vicente Fox, or 120,626 more deaths.

Mexico currently ranks eighth worldwide in the prevalence of diabetes, although international experts project that by 2025 the country will be in “sixth or seventh place, with 11.9 million Mexicans with diabetes.”

In terms of deaths attributed to the disease, Mexico ranks sixth worldwide and third in the Americas.

According to the study presented on Tuesday, diabetes has been the No. 1 cause of death in Mexico since 2000, responsible for 17.2 per cent of all deaths. A total of 38 new cases are diagnosed every hour and every two hours five people die from diabetes-related complications.

Calvillo said that despite the seriousness of the problem, the current government has “given in” to pressure from the food and beverage industry and permitted it to self-regulate.

For his part, Dr Abelardo Avila, of the Salvador Zubiran National Institute of Medical Sciences and Nutrition, said that Mexico is suffering the worst obesity epidemic in the history of humanity, “both because of the accelerated growth (in the problem) and the damage to people’s health and the inability to prevent it and cope with its consequences.”

“Unless the epidemic of obesity, diabetes and other health damages is stamped out with truly effective public actions and policies, we’ll put not only the country’s health but also its very viability at high risk,” he said.

He said the greatest danger at present “is to suppose that the lukewarm actions undertaken to date are serving to improve the situation; there needs to be objective recognition of the seriousness of the damage and the urgency of tackling the problem with all the resources and capacities of the state and civil society.”

According to the study, the total cost of diabetes in Mexico rose from 2.97 billion pesos in 2003 to 8.84 billion pesos in 2010, an increase of more than 290 per cent in seven years.