BACKGROUND: Mexico is a developing country with one of the highest youth obesity rates worldwide; >34% of children and adolescents between 5 and 19 years of age are overweight or obese. OBJECTIVES: The current review seeks to compile, describe, and analyze dietary conditions, physical activity, socioeconomic status, and cultural factors that create and exacerbate an obesogenic environment among Mexican youth. DESIGN: A narrative review was performed using PubMed and the Cochrane Library databases, as well as grey literature data from the Mexican government, academics, and statistical reports from nongovernmental organizations, included in electronic formats. RESULTS: The recent socioeconomic and nutritional transition has resulted in reduced healthy meal options at public schools, high rates of sedentary lifestyles among adolescents, lack of open spaces and playgrounds, socioeconomic deprivation, false or misunderstood sociocultural traditional beliefs, misconceptions about health, a high percentage of overweight or obese adults, and low rates of maternal breastfeeding. Some of the factors identified are exacerbating the obesity problem in this population. Current evidence also shows that more policies and health programs are needed for prevention of childhood and adolescent obesity. Mexico presents alarming obesity levels, which need to be curtailed and urgently reversed. CONCLUSIONS: The present narrative review presents an overview of dietary, physical activity, societal and cultural preconceptions that are potentially modifiable obesity-promoting factors in Mexican youth. Measures to control these factors need to be implemented in all similar developing countries by governments, policy makers, stakeholders, and health care professionals to tackle obesity in children and young people.
Bibliographical noteMAM is the recipient of a fellowship award from the Mexican National Council of Science and Technology (Consejo Nacional de Ciencia y Tecnologı´a). This study was supported by the Generalitat de Catalunya [2014 SGR 873; NFOC-SALUT: Grup de Recerca en Nutricio´ Funcional, Oxidacio´ i Malaltia Cardiovascular (Generalitat de Catalunya 20142016)].
- health determinants
- developing countries
- childhood obesity
- health and environmental change