SEVENTY metres (230 feet) long and slathered with cream and cheese, the world’s biggest enchilada was cooked up in a suburb of Mexico City on October 17th. The 1.4-tonne lunch was certified by Guinness World Records,* then devoured.
If Mexico is not careful, Guinness may soon award it another title. In the obesity stakes, the United States takes the cake. But Mexico comes a close second, and has a higher proportion of merely “overweight” citizens than do the gringos. Seven out of ten Mexican adults are overweight, and three out of ten are obese, according to a recent study by the OECD. In Chile and Brazil, the two other Latin American countries in the 40-country survey, just 22% and 14% fell into the chubbiest category.
Moreover, the problem is expanding. In 2000 some 20% of Mexican primary-school girls were overweight; by 2006 27% were. Diabetes is the top cause of hospital admission after childbirth, and the second-biggest cause of death.
Castañeda points out that Mexico’s main distinction in international competition appears to be concocting, with government support, pointless new feats for the Guinness Book of World Records, such as Most People Dancing to Michael Jackson’s Thriller. He quotes another Mexican political scientist, Carlos Elizondo: “Why such an obsession with this? For the same reasons we dislike competition. These records are based on noncompetition. … Nobody else in the world cares.”