Hidden Crisis: Obesity and Malnutrition in Post-NAFTA Mexico

Mexico has the distinction of co-mingling obesity and malnutrition: the OECD ranked Mexico as having the second highest adult obesity rate in the world at 32.4 percent, only behind the United States, while child malnutrition in seven Mexican states exceeds 36 percent (World Vision Mexico, 2015). Malnutrition is more intense in indigenous communities.

Research suggests a causal correlation between both obesity and malnutrition in Mexico and the implementation of NAFTA in 1994. U.S. food industry investments in processed foods (cheap, high in calories, and low in nutrition), the cratering of prices for the produce of Mexican small farmers—especially staples like corn—and the large-scale Mexican export of healthy fruits and vegetables all contributed. Now, 42 percent of the food Mexicans consume is imported.

As talk of renegotiating NAFTA picks up, this project aims to shed light on a critical issue that is often overlooked.

Meet the Journalist: James Whitlow Delano

Post-NAFTA Mexico was flooded with cheap sugary, fatty junk food from the U.S.–triggering a dual crisis: obesity and malnutrition. As NAFTA renegotiations progress, will these crises come up at all?