Overweight and obesity in a rural Amerindian population in Oaxaca, Southern Mexico, 1968-2000.


The purpose of this study was to evaluate secular change in the prevalence of overweight and obesity in a rural Zapotec Indian community in southern Mexico between 1968 and 2000. Cross-sectional surveys of children 6-13 years, adolescents 13-17 years, and adults 19 years of age and older resident in a rural community in Oaxaca were conducted in 1968/1971, 1978, and 2000. Individuals present in the 1968, 1978, and 2000 surveys provided a small longitudinal component. Height and weight were measured; the BMI was calculated. International criteria for overweight and obesity were used. Overweight and obesity were virtually absent in school children 6-13 years in 1968 and 1978 and in adolescents in 1978. Small proportions of children (boys, 5%; girls, 8%) and adolescents (boys, 3%; girls, 15%) were overweight in 2000; two children (1%) and no adolescents were obese. Among adults, 7% of males and 19% of females were overweight and <1% of males and 4% of females were obese in 1971/1978, but 46% of males and 47% of females were overweight; and 5% of males and 14% of females were obese in 2000. The trends for children, adolescents, and adults were confirmed in the longitudinal subsamples. In conclusion, overweight and obesity are not presently a major problem in children and adolescents in this rural Zapotec community. Overweight, in particular, and to a lesser extent obesity have increased in prevalence among adults since the late 1970s. The results suggest adulthood as a critical period for onset of overweight and obesity in this sample.

Cite this paper

@article{Malina2007OverweightAO, title={Overweight and obesity in a rural Amerindian population in Oaxaca, Southern Mexico, 1968-2000.}, author={Robert M Malina and Maria Eugenia Pe{\~n}a Reyes and Swee Kheng Tan and Peter H. Buschang and Bertis B. Little}, journal={American journal of human biology : the official journal of the Human Biology Council}, year={2007}, volume={19 5}, pages={711-21} }