Public Health Nutrition

Health economy

Obesity prevalence in Mexico: impact on health and economic burden

Ketevan Rtveladzea1 c1, Tim Marsha1, Simon Barqueraa2, Luz Maria Sanchez Romeroa2, David Levya3, Guillermo Melendeza4, Laura Webbera1, Fanny Kilpia1, Klim McPhersona5 and Martin Browna1

a1 Micro Health Simulations, Victoria House 7th Floor, Southampton Row, London WC1B 4AD, UK

a2 Instituto Nacional de Salud Pública, Cuernavaca, Morelos, México

a3 Georgetown University, Washington, DC, USA

a4 Fundación Mexicana para la Salud, Tlalpan, México DF

a5 New College, Oxford, UK


Objective Along with other countries having high and low-to-middle income, Mexico has experienced a substantial change in obesity rates. This rapid growth in obesity prevalence has led to high rates of obesity-related diseases and associated health-care costs.

Design Micro-simulation is used to project future BMI trends. Additionally thirteen BMI-related diseases and health-care costs are estimated. The results are simulated for three hypothetical scenarios: no BMI reduction and BMI reductions of 1 % and 5 % across the population.

Setting Mexican Health and Nutrition Surveys 1999 and 2000, and Mexican National Health and Nutrition Survey 2006.

Subjects Mexican adults.

Results In 2010, 32 % of men and 26 % of women were normal weight. By 2050, the proportion of normal weight will decrease to 12 % and 9 % for males and females respectively, and more people will be obese than overweight. It is projected that by 2050 there will be 12 million cumulative incidence cases of diabetes and 8 million cumulative incidence cases of heart disease alone. For the thirteen diseases considered, costs of $US 806 million are estimated for 2010, projected to increase to $US 1·2 billion and $US 1·7 billion in 2030 and 2050 respectively. A 1 % reduction in BMI prevalence could save $US 43 million in health-care costs in 2030 and $US 85 million in 2050.

Conclusions Obesity rates are leading to a large health and economic burden. The projected numbers are high and Mexico should implement strong action to tackle obesity. Results presented here will be very helpful in planning and implementing policy interventions.

(Received July 03 2012)

(Revised December 05 2012)

(Accepted January 02 2013)

(Online publication February 01 2013)


  • Obesity;
  • Mexico;
  • Health care;
  • Cost;
  • Economic


c1 Corresponding author: Email