Obesity: Mexico’s other epidemic

Photo: SIPSE

In 2016, more than 1.9 billion adults (39 per cent of the global population) were overweight, of which over 650 million were obese. According to data from the World Health Organization, in the space of just 45 years, worldwide obesity has nearly tripled

The trend toward overweight and obesity among Mexico’s ‘Generation Alpha’ and part of its ‘Generation Z’ is cause for serious concern. The obesity epidemic is a health problem that concerns everyone, not just people who are overweight.Photo: Consuelo Pagaza

A parallel increase in chronic non-communicable diseases associated with obesity, such as diabetes and high blood pressure, has also been detected. And with the coronavirus pandemic yet to be brought under control, both overweight and obesity pose greater risks for those who become infected with Covid-19.

According to Mexico’s Secretariat of Health, in addition to “poor school performance and emotional problems such as diminished self-esteem,” these diseases not only cause problems for people who suffer from them, but also for the country’s economy: “The OECD estimates that Mexico’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) will decline by 5.3 per cent between 2020 and 2050 due to the epidemic of overweight and obesity, which also negatively impacts vulnerable groups.”

A quick glance inside any shop in Mexico will reveal the high number of processed foods on offer.Photo: Consuelo Pagaza

Until recently, studies addressing the causes of obesity have focused on the poor choices made by individuals, but have rarely looked at the obesogenic environment, which the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) describes as “an environment that influences personal preferences to consume food products high in calories, simple sugars, fat and salt, and low in nutritional quality.”

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