Mexico Ranks First in the World for Child Obesity

by Vins
Published: Last Updated on

In May 2014, the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development reported that Mexico has the highest child obesity rates in the world. According to a 2012 Mexican national nutrition survey, 35 per cent of the country’s adolescents (ages 11 to 19) are overweight or obese. These rates rose from 33.2 per cent in 2006 to 34.9 per cent in 2012. Like the U.S. and Canada, poor diet and nutrition education, large portion sizes, confusing product labels, and the low cost of processed foods are among the obesity risk factors.

Further, poor access to water and easy access to U.S.-imported soda (the average Mexican drinks 46 gallons per year, making Mexico the world’s number one per capita soda consumer), along with the heavy public security restrictions on outdoor activity for most Mexican children, contribute to rising obesity rates, reports Al Jazeera America.

According to Live Strong, over a span of 14 years, there has been a decrease of 30 per cent in fresh fruit and vegetable purchases and an increase of 40 per cent in sugary beverages purchased in Mexico. Also, Mexican children who live in economically developed areas are more likely to become obese versus children who live in less developed areas who tend to be malnourished.

Regardless of their socioeconomic status, most Mexican children are at risk of obesity, which calls for a national prevention strategy. So far, to help combat obesity, Mexico’s Congress passed legislation in 2010 that intended to decrease how much junk food was sold in Mexican schools and to give students the opportunity to get 30 minutes of physical activity every day. Although these efforts were put in place, the U.S. Embassy in Mexico claims the reforms are difficult to implement due to class schedules.

As of March 17, 2016, Al Jazeera America has been the only one to directly report on Mexico’s world-leading child obesity rates, while corporate media coverage remains unseen.


Kate Kilpatrick, “Child obesity in Mexico,” Al Jazeera America, August 15, 2015,

Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, “Obesity and the Economics of Prevention: Fit Not Fat,” Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, May 27, 2014,

Índice de masa corporal, “La obesidad en el menor de edad,” Índice de masa corporal, November 3, 2015,

Christa Miller, “Obesity in Mexican Children,” Live Strong, July 9, 2015,

Student Researcher: Jessie Anton (University of Regina)

Faculty Evaluator: Patricia W. Elliott (University of Regina)