EL PASO — With more than 20 liquor stores, over 100 convenience stores and the many supermarkets and restaurants that sell alcoholic beverages, it is little wonder that El Pasoans are facing an obesity epidemic.
Manuel Colorado, a local exercise specialist and nutritionist, works with overweight clients.
“It is easy for people in El Paso to gain weight because of their alcohol consumption,” says Colorado.
“With nothing else to do in our city; alcohol seems to fill the void of boredom and too much time on the hands.”
While Colorado’s clients are reducing their prospect of obesity by limiting their alcohol intake and exercising, some El Pasoans are doing nothing to better their chances of dodging obesity.
“We see obese people walking around El Paso everyday and not doing anything about it,” says Colorado.
“When there are so many unmotivated people surrounding you, it is not hard to fall into the same comfortable pattern.”
Liquor store employees witness El Pasoans purchase alcohol on a daily basis, many who are drinking their way to obesity.
“I see easily between 100 to 200 people daily,” says Barrel House clerk Jose Savala, and “most of them are regulars and morbidly overweight.”
Savala who has worked at a liquor store for many years claims that during the time he has spent behind the counter, he has noticed a pattern.
“I think alcohol does contribute to obesity in El Paso because it’s a drinking culture around here being so close to the border,” says Savala.
“It’s beer during the week and tequila on the weekends.”
A contributing factor to the obesity rate in El Paso is the nightlife which consists of bars and clubs with alcohol as the main attraction.
A popular string of bars in the Cincinnati Entertainment District located across from the University of Texas at El Paso provides alcohol to college students and younger El Pasoans.
“As soon as anyone turns 21 in El Paso, they usually start partying on Cincinnati Street,” says Iris Mendez, 22, “and there are people my age who are reaching a morbidly obese status.”
Mendez, who goes to the Cincinnati district at least twice a month, sees the same people there every time she visits.
“I know a lot of people do make it a habit of going every Tuesday and Friday when it is the most packed,” says Mendez, “and these are the same people who seem to be getting bigger and bigger every time I see them.”
Colorado, Savalas and Mendez all perceive alcohol as a common factor in the rising obesity rate in El Paso.
“I know people from high school who have gained so much weight because of alcohol,” says Mendez.
“It is always a party for them and every time I see them they have a beer in their hand.”