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Caloric reductions needed to achieve obesity goals in Mexico for 2030 and 2040: A modeling study

journal contribution
posted on 2023-08-25, 03:29 authored by F Reyes-Sánchez, A Basto-Abreu, R Torres-Álvarez, M Carnalla-Cortés, A Reyes-García, Boyd SwinburnBoyd Swinburn, R Meza, JA Rivera, B Popkin, T Barientos-Gutiérrez
Background In Mexico, obesity prevalence among adults increased from 23% in 2000 to 36% in 2018, approximately. Mexico has not defined short- or long-term obesity goals, obscuring the level of effort required to achieve a relevant impact. We aimed to explore potential obesity goals for 2030 and 2040 in Mexico and to estimate the required caloric reductions to achieve them. Methods and findings We obtained anthropometric and demographic information on the Mexican adult population (age ≥20 years) from the Health and Nutrition Surveys conducted in 2000, 2006, 2012, 2016, and 2018 (n = 137,907). Each survey wave is cross-sectional, multistage, and representative of the Mexican population at the national, regional, and urban/rural levels. Obesity prevalence was projected for 2030 and 2040 by combining population projections of energy intake by socioeconomic status (SES) with a weight-change microsimulation model taking into account individual-level information on sex, age, physical activity, and initial body weight and height. If current trends continue, Mexico’s obesity prevalence is expected to increase from 36% (95% CI 35% to 37%) in 2018 to 45% (uncertainty interval [UI] 41% to 48%) in 2030 and to 48% (UI 41% to 55%) in 2040. Based on expert opinion, we identified 3 obesity goals scenarios: (1) plausible (38% in 2030 and 36% in 2040); (2) intermediate (33% in 2030 and 29% in 2040); and (3) ideal based on the average prevalence of Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development countries (OECD; 19%). We estimated the caloric reductions needed to achieve the goal scenarios using the microsimulation model. Obesity was projected to increase more rapidly in the low SES (around 34% in 2018 to 48% (UI 41% to 55%) in 2040), than in the middle (around 38% to 52% (UI 45% to 56%)), or high SES group (around 36% to 45% (UI 36% to 54%)). Caloric reductions of 40 (UI 13 to 60), 75 (UI 49 to 95), and 190 (UI 163 to 215) kcal/person/day would be needed to reach the plausible, intermediate, and the ideal (OECD) average scenarios for 2030, respectively. To reach the 2040 goals, caloric reductions of 74 (UI 28 to 114), 124 (UI 78 to 169), and 209 (UI 163 to 254) kcal/person/day would be required, respectively. Study limitations include assuming a constant and sedentary physical activity level, not considering cohort-specific differences that could occur in the future, and assuming the same caloric trends under no intervention and the obesity goal scenarios. Conclusions To reach the 3 obesity goals in 2040, caloric reductions between 74 and 209 kcal/day/person would be needed in Mexico. A package of new and stronger interventions should be added to existing efforts such as food taxes and warning labels on non-nutritious food.



PLoS Medicine



Article number

ARTN e1004248


United States







Publication classification

C1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal


Adams J