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Mexico takes the cake in overweight list

By Ed Payne, CNN
updated 7:40 AM EDT, Thu July 11, 2013
Nearly a third of all Mexicans are obese, slightly more than the percentage of obese people in the United States.
Nearly a third of all Mexicans are obese, slightly more than the percentage of obese people in the United States.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Nearly 33% of Mexicans are obese, a United Nations report says
  • That's the highest level of the world's industrialized nations
  • Cheap, high-calorie food and lack of exercise are to blame, experts say

(CNN) -- Mexico heads the list of the world's most overweight industrialized nations. Fat chance you say? Exactly.

Nearly a third of Mexican adults are obese, a recent United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization report says, topping even the United States, which comes in a close second at 31.8%.

The United States has long been a fixture atop the chubby list.

The culprit? High-calorie, low-cost, processed foods and an increasingly sedentary lifestyle as Mexican incomes rise and more people move into metropolitan areas.

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The danger, according to the World Health Organization, is an increased risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, degenerative joint diseases and some cancers.

The obesity epidemic is a double whammy for Mexican children, who can be both malnourished and overweight.

"They are exposed to high-fat, high-sugar, high-salt, energy-dense ... foods, which tend to be lower in cost but also lower in nutrient quality," the World Health Organization reports.

It's a growing problem -- and not just for Mexico. Since 1980, obesity rates worldwide have doubled.

In 2008, more than 1.4 billion adults were overweight and 500 million were obese.

The solution is simple but not always easy to accomplish, especially as nutritional options are limited in many parts of the world.

The WHO recommends:

-- Limiting your intake of fats and sugars
-- Increasing consumption of fruit and vegetables, as well as legumes, whole grains and nuts
-- Engaging in regular physical activity: 60 minutes a day for children and 150 minutes per week for adults

CNN's Marilia Brocchetto contributed to this report

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