170,000 people die every year in Mexico due to obesity

An analysis by EL UNIVERSAL based on data from the WHO and INEGI
Mexico has more than 85 million people with overweight or obesity. (Photo: Archive / EL UNIVERSAL)
14/07/2015
11:32
Abigail Gómez
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Obesity is directly responsible for many of the deadliest diseases in Mexico. When a patient is obese and then suffers an illness resulting from overweight, experts call this comorbidity.

An analysis made by EL UNIVERSAL based on data from the World Health Organization (WHO) and the National Statistics Institute (INEGI), shows that obesity comorbidity kills over 170,000 Mexicans every year, 28% of the total number of deaths.

In Mexico, four of the five leading causes of death are due to obesity comorbidity. Heart ailments kill 113,240 Mexicans a year, 50% of which are obese.

The second cause of death is diabetes, that kills 87,245 Mexicans every year, out of which 80% were obese. In the case of malignant tumors, that kill 73,426 people every year, 41% of the victims were obese. Finally, 36% of those who die due from fatty liver disease (34, 156 per year), were overweight.

Experts agree that sooner or later, 100% of obese people present comorbidity.

Dr. Michel Barrios, clinical nutritionist and bariatrics specialist at Hospital Español, said that until recently obesity was seen in a different way.

"Less than 10 years ago it was only considered a risk factor, something that could increase your chances of developing a degenerative disease, but not a direct cause. Today we know that by itself reduces both the quality and life expectancy of people. The excess fat in the body always result in heart ailments, insulin problems or fatty liver. Is just a matter of which organ or system fails first, "he says.

Dr. Loredana Tavano, coordinator of the specialty in Obesity and Comorbidities of the Iberoamerican University, explained the effects of excessive body fat:

"When there is a lot of adipose tissue, the body behaves differently. The increase in body size makes the heart work harder to pump blood to the farthest corners, which eventually leads to heart disease. The fat accumulates in veins and arteries, which leads to a heart attack or stroke. Obese people also accumulate excess sugar, which becomes diabetes, while the increased work done by the liver to metabolize fat leads to fatty liver disease."

"Before high blood pressure, diabetes and heart attacks were diseases associated with old age, now we see these problems in people 30 or 40 years old and, worse, in children under 15. The only responsible is obesity," she added.

According to experts, more than 90% of patients seek to address their weight until they suffer complications.

A study published in the Journal of the Mexican Social Security Institute (IMSS) said that in Mexico food with obesogenic effects is more accessible than healthy food.

Mexico is the number one consumer of soft drinks, 40% more than the United States and the member of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) with more working hours [more than 10 per day] in mainly sedentary jobs. It is also the country in which children watch more television [an average of four hours a day] and 56.4% of the population does not do any sport or physical activity, according to a survey conducted by the INEGI in 2014. Also, 40% of the publicity seen by children on television is associated with fattening food, according to figures from the National Polytechnic Institute (IPN).

Mexico has more than 85 million people with overweight or obesity. Of them, 70% are adult and 30% are children aged between 5 and 11, according to figures of the National Public Health Institute. In contrast, there are 2.4 nutritionists for every 1,000 inhabitants.

Figures from the Ministry of Health show that obesity costs the country 67 billion pesos (US$4.27 billion), and by 2017 the cost is expected to reach 202 billion pesos (US$12.89 billion). 

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