Public Health Nutrition

Research Article

Epidemiological and nutritional transition in Mexico: rapid increase of non-communicable chronic diseases and obesity

Juan A Riveraa1, Simón Barqueraa1 c1, Fabricio Campiranoa1, Ismael Camposa1, Margarita Safdiea1 and Víctor Tovara2

a1 Centro de Investigación en Nutrición y Salud, Instituto Nacional de Salud Pública, Avenida Universidad 655 Col. Santa María Ahuacatitl´n, Cuernavaca, Morelos, Mexico, CP 62508

a2 Centro de Investigación en Poblaciones, Instituto Nacional de Salud Pública, Cuernavaca, Morelos, Mexico


Objective: The objective of this paper is to characterise the epidemiological and nutritional transition and their determinants in Mexico.

Design: Age-adjusted standardised mortality rates (SMRs) due to acute myocardial infarction (AMI), diabetes mellitus and hypertension were calculated for 1980–1998. Changes in the prevalences of overweight and obesity in women and children and of dietary intake from 1988 to 1999 were also used in the analysis. Quantities of food groups purchased by adult equivalent (AE) and food expenditures away from home between 1984 and 1989 were used to assess trends. All information was analysed at the national and regional levels, and by urban and rural areas.

Results: SMR for diabetes, AMI and hypertension increased dramatically parallel to obesity at the national and regional levels. Fat intake in women and the purchase of refined carbohydrates, including soda, also increased.

Discussion: The results suggest that obesity is playing a role in the increased SMRs of diabetes, AMI and hypertension in Mexico. Total energy dietary intake and food purchase data could not explain the rise in the prevalence of obesity. The increases in fat intake and the purchase of refined carbohydrates may be risk factors for increased mortality. Information on physical activity was not available.

Conclusion: SMRs due to diabetes, hypertension and AMI have increased dramatically in parallel with the prevalence of obesity; therefore actions should be taken for the prevention of obesity. Reliable information about food consumption and physical activity is required to assess their specific roles in the aetiology of obesity.


c1 *Corresponding author: Email