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In the land of Carlos Slim, obesity

Mexico has captured the dubious title of world’s most obese nation.

This story has been getting a lot of play in the overseas press, and obscures the complexities around the topic, including the links between poverty and obesity. 

Some of Mexico’s poorest areas are also where it has the highest rates of diabetes and obesity. This is partly due to the rise of convenience stores, the power of food and beverage conglomerates like Bimbo and Coca-Cola and a more fast-paced lifestyle. I did an article on the soaring rate of diabetes in Mexico a while back.

Certainly here in Mexico City, the rise of roadside stands serving greasy food and sugary drinks is a contributing factor. With phenomenally long commutes, hardworking Mexicans here have little time for anything but cheap roadside food. No longer do they go home for home-cooked meals at lunch. 

The Global Post story of my colleague Dudley Althaus kicked off the spate of coverage on the obesity. Now, 32.8 percent of Mexicans are obese, pushing U.S. citizens down the world "globesity" list.

The sad thing is, fresh fruits and vegetables are so abundant and cheap in Mexico. I went to a neighborhood market Saturday and filled up a large bag with myriad fruits and vegetables. They all look so much fresher and riper than the normal assortment of plastic-wrapped, wax-covered stuff at the U.S. supermarket. And the cost? About 10 bucks.


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Complicated issue. I tend to think of it as an education issue rather than a cost/poverty issue. The majority of the people I know who are well off here eat well, exercise regularly and tend to place a high level of priority on appearance. These people also have Access to the best education in Mexico.. or abroad. My family is the same in that we rarely have colas in the house. Poor people have Little to no background with respect to dietary education. Including this as part of the curriculum to me would seem to be a rather simple venture.

At the local markets here you can buy fruit/vegetables made locally by the bag for 10 pesos. This is not a cost issue.


As an expat in a Maya village, I also enjoy a near vegetarian diet ... fresh fruit and vegetables daily BUT I can't interest any of my Maya friends even when I give it away.

Mary Ellen

I have made several healthy dishes for my Mexican friends but it seems they are so accustomed to the high calorie/low nutrient foods such as rice and tortillas that they have no interested in anything healthy. It's going to be a loooonnnnnnngggggg time before obesity is curtailed here in Mexico due to the mindset of the average Mexican.
I never see anyone eating fruits and vegetables; it's always meat, tortillas and other high fat diets.

pink schnoid

yes, for breakfast I'll take some chilaquiles, a bag of Sabritas and a liter of Coke, porfa...can I have some extra sugar for my coffee, please?...thanks...I love that my spouse is fat, that means nobody else will want him/her..y algunos churros, tambien...orale...y verdura?....guàcala

let's take the car, I don't feel like walking....

en Mexico, engodarse es un deporte


I live in Honduras, an ex-pat from Seattle. Yesterday in the market I bought a 1 and a half pound head of cauliflour for 60 cents, a mango for 50 cents. All veggies and fruits are similarly priced. It is so sad the influence the US fast food poison has had on the native folks.

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This blog is written by Tim Johnson, the Mexico bureau chief for McClatchy Newspapers.

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