Obesity and excess mortality among the elderly in the United States and Mexico

Demography. 2010 Feb;47(1):79-96. doi: 10.1353/dem.0.0085.


Increasing levels of obesity could compromise future gains in life expectancy in low- and high-income countries. Although excess mortality associated with obesity and, more generally, higher levels of body mass index (BAI) have been investigated in the United States, there is little research about the impact of obesity on mortality in Latin American countries, where very the rapid rate of growth of prevalence of obesity and overweight occur jointly with poor socioeconomic conditions. The aim of this article is to assess the magnitude of excess mortality due to obesity and overweight in Mexico and the United States. For this purpose, we take advantage of two comparable data sets: the Health and Retirement Study 2000 and 2004 for the United States, and the Mexican Health and Aging Study 2001 and 2003 for Mexico. We find higher excess mortality risks among obese and overweight individuals aged 60 and older in Mexico than in the United States. Yet, when analyzing excess mortality among different socioeconomic strata, we observe greater gaps by education in the United States than in Mexico. We also find that although the probability of experiencing obesity-related chronic diseases among individuals with high BMI is larger for the U.S. elderly, the relative risk of dying conditional on experiencing these diseases is higher in Mexico.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Body Mass Index
  • Chronic Disease / epidemiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Logistic Models
  • Male
  • Mexico / epidemiology
  • Middle Aged
  • Mortality*
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Obesity / epidemiology*
  • Risk Factors
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • United States / epidemiology