Coronavirus could hit Mexico's high obesity, diabetes rates

The coronavirus pandemic could be especially deadly in Mexico because of the country's high rates of obesity and diabetes

MEXICO CITY -- The coronavirus pandemic could be especially deadly in Mexico because of the country's high rates of obesity and diabetes, a coalition of consumer and health advocacy groups said Wednesday.

The Alliance for Food Health said in a report that four of the first five coronavirus deaths in Mexico involved people with diabetes.

Mexico has the highest diabetes rate in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, and one of the highest obesity rates, with 72.5% of adults overweight or obese.

Paulina Magaña, a researcher for Consumer Power, said Mexico's 11 million diabetes cases “make this scenario a petri dish for COVID-19,” the disease caused by the virus.

Experts say underlying conditions like high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes and obesity can make health outcomes far worse for coronavirus patients. For most people, the virus causes only mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks.

Abelardo Ávila, a researcher at the National Institute for Medical Sciences and Nutrition, said, “The majority of the deaths that will occur in Mexico during the current epidemic will be associated with the serious problem of obesity.