In Mexico, where sugary sodas are more accessible than clean drinking water and Type 2 Diabetes is a leading cause of death, one iconic bottle and its bright red logo is found in every home, at every restaurant, even included in every family altar at Dìa de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) celebrations. Now a ubiquitous part of Mexican culture and diet, Coca-cola and other sugary drinks are as much a way of life as they are of death, unleashing a public health crisis on a government and population ill-equipped to handle it.
As eye-opening as it is galvanizing, El Susto uncovers the powerful beverage industry’s outsized influence across the country, its access driven by deep political ties, aggressive marketing campaigns and gross abuse of power. When public health officials determine to fight back and curb the tide of the sugary epidemic with a national soda tax, it will require not only the heroic efforts of advocates united with politicians to create and enforce regulations but the reeducation of a population that consumes the most soda per capita in the world. Featuring families who have been devastated by Type 2 Diabetes for generations; healthcare workers embedded in the communities most impacted by the epidemic; leading public health advocates, including Alejandro Cavillo and Dr. Simon Barquera, on the frontlines of the fight; and even a former Coca-cola marketing executive who now renounces his role in the industry, El Susto charts Big Soda’s insidious infiltration into Mexican society as courageous public health advocates, medical professionals and community members fight for the well-being of a nation.