Public health in Mexico continues to present significant gender gaps as women are significantly more affected by obesity problems, non-communicable diseases and mental illnesses, according to the 2018 National Health Survey (Ensanut), released this Monday.

The report revealed that 3 out of 4 adults are overweight or obese. However, 76.8% of Mexican women suffer from any of these conditions compared to 71% of men.

“It is something that is affecting mainly women,” said Dr. Tonatiuh Barrientos, a member of the Population Health Research Center of the National Institute of Public Health (INSP).

The document also indicates that 10.3% of the Mexican population suffers from diabetes (8.6 million people), and the prevalence in women went from 9.7% in 2012 to 11.4% in 2018, while in men it increased from 8.6% to 9.1% in the same period.

The panorama in hypertension is not very different because while at the national level this condition went from 16.6% in 2012 to 18.4% in 2018, the condition is more prevalent in women with 20.9%, while 15.3% of the male population suffers from high pressure .

Ensanut 2018 also highlighted that 22.5% of women reported having depressive symptoms compared to 12.4% of men in adulthood, which is why it is already considered a public health problem that requires attention.

“Mental health is a great slope that requires further study,” said Dr. Barrientos.

Juan Rivera, director of the National Institute of Public Health (INSP), pointed out that these results are worrying, especially in a context where these pre-existing diseases increase the vulnerability of the SARS-CoV-2 infection.


According to Ensanut 2018, overweight and obesity increased more than 10 percentage points in adolescents between 2012 and 2018.

This means that almost one in four Mexicans between the ages of 12 and 19 suffers from one of these health problems.

In this sector, for 2012 it was calculated that the prevalence of overweight and obesity was 27.9%, while for 2018 the prevalence was 38.5%.

Meanwhile, in the case of children from 5 to 11 years old, overweight and obesity went from 34.5% in 2012 to 35.5% in 2018.

This is also added to the poor diet in Mexico, since it was revealed that 14% of children under five years of age (around 1.3 million) have chronic malnutrition.

While a quarter of Mexicans continue to experience food insecurity and hunger.

In this regard, the Secretary of Health, Jorge Alcocer, pointed out in the presentation of the report that there are enormous nutritional deficiencies, and that the excessive consumption of ultra-processed products is one of its facets.

Among the positive points, it was found that breastfeeding doubled, going from 14.4% in 2012 to 28.6% in 2018.

Likewise, it was highlighted that only a third of the children had their complete vaccination scheme, because while in 2012 60.7% of the children had completed it, in 2018 only 33.6% had completed their inoculation.


The Undersecretary of Prevention and Health Promotion, Hugo López Gatell, highlighted that, given the importance of information to guide health policies, the application of the survey will begin annually from Ensanut 2018.

He also announced that they are already working on the creation of the National Center for Health Intelligence that will integrate the information from the General Directorates of Epidemiology and Health Information “to have a solid, harmonious and collaborative system.

“Finally, Juan Rivera stressed that the Ensanut 2018-2019 had a cost of 196 million pesos (4.72 million dollars) but had to be delayed due to lack of resources. However, starting next year there will be an assigned annual budget.