Overweight and Obesity Doubled Over a 6-Year Period in Young Women Living in Poverty in Mexico

The prevalence of overweight and obesity is increasing in low- and middle-income countries faster than in the more industrialized nations, and appears to be affecting women disproportionately. The aim of this study was to document weight changes in young women living in poverty in Mexico over a 6-year period. Overweight and obesity were defined using body mass index (BMI) measures as proposed by the World Health Organization. Researchers had already documented the women's weight in a previous study that took place between 1997 and 2000. This follow-up study in 2005 provided updated information for 683 women. At follow-up, almost 66 percent of the women lived in a home with a dirt floor, 21.5 percent had received no formal schooling or had incomplete elementary school and 4 percent were illiterate.

Key Findings:

  • The prevalence of low BMI decreased from 3.5 percent to 1 percent.
  • The combined prevalence of obesity and overweight almost doubled.
  • The prevalence of obesity alone tripled from 9.8 percent to 30.3 percent.

A clear understanding of what has caused the changes in overweight is urgently needed to ensure that programs can adequately address the situation and work toward effective prevention.