Mexico Surpasses America in Obesity Rate

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images News/Getty Images

Next thing you know, anti-immigration activists will say they're taking our cheeseburgers.

Yes, that's right, according to a United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) report released Tuesday, Mexico's obesity rate is now higher than in the United States. According to the report, roughly 33 percent of Mexicans are now obese, and 70 percent are overweight.

Here's a graph from the FAO report showing the prevalence of obesity worldwide, separated by region, and developed vs. developing countries:

FAO Report

CBS news reports that diabetes alone kills as many as 70,000 people a year in Mexico—almost the same number of people that have been killed in more than six years of the country's much more publicized gangland wars.

What's causing this epidemic? According to Professor Barry Popkin, a global obesity expert from the University of North Carolina, there are three major causes: increased consumption of sugary beverages and snacks, increased marketing of said junkfood, and significant growth of convenience stores and modern mega-food markets. Mexicans also blame the U.S. for its fast food restaurants and junk food snacks, which have spread quickly throughout the country since the opening of its local economy to global marketers in the early 1990s.

However, neither Mexico nor America win the prize for highest obesity rates in the world. Mexico doesn't even win in Central America —Belize's obesity rate is almost 35 percent. The region with the highest rate is actually Oceania (excluding Australia and New Zealand), and the regions with the lowest rates are Africa and South Asia.

But don't be too disappointed America: We could still catch up. The U.S. obesity rate is nearly 32 percent, only one percentage point behind our neighbor south of the border.

Image: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images, FAO Report