) --

Young U.S. Americans are growing up fat and dumb

, I pointed out in a previous article. This is troubling because the educational attainment of young people is probably a pretty good indicator on how a country will fare in the 21st century.

And while I believe the

economic prospects for Latin American

countries are excellent for the next 10 years, it appears that at least some Latin American countries are going down the same road as the U.S. in producing dumb, fat kids. The second column in the table provides the average grade on reading, science and math scores from the OECD survey for selected countries. Latin American countries have uniformly low scores. The Gini Coefficient is a measure of income inequality -- the higher the number, the more unequal is the income distribution. Income inequality is very high in Latin America. And this means rich parents don't care about the public school system; they send their kids to private schools.

The final column in the table is the percentage of the population 15 years old and up that is obese. No Latin American country compares with the U.S., but obesity is a growing danger in Latin America.

The Economist

just did a feature article on education in Latin America. It was quite positive on new steps being taken to improve education in Brazil. But it also said: "Argentina's schools, which a century ago were among the best in the world, continue to decline."

Elliott Morss is an economic consultant and an individual investor in developing countries. He has taught at the University of Michigan, Harvard University, Boston University, among other schools. Morss worked at the International Monetary Fund and helped establish Development Alternatives Inc. He has co-written six books and published more than four dozen articles in professional journals.