A Behavioral Study of the Causes of Obesity in Mexicans

More than 70 percent of the population is overweight or overweight. The influence of culture and environment in the formation of eating habits is analyzed. Health and family history was studied in each participant. Foods rich in sugars and fats have a high addictive potential.

A Behavioral Study of the Causes of Obesity in Mexicans
Hamburger consumption is often associated with obesity, heart disease and diabetes. Photo by 𝓐𝓵𝓲𝓪 𝓦. / Unsplash

Culture and environment combine for the poor decision making of Mexicans regarding their food and bad habits, which lead to obesity, explained researchers from UNAM and other higher education institutions who are developing the project "CONDUCTOME: The study of the behavior behind obesity".

The study offers a new way of approaching the problem of this condition and metabolic diseases, as the central point is the choices related to overconsumption, sedentary lifestyles, and everything that affects health.

From 2014 to date, experts have gathered information from four thousand participants, mostly students from the UNAM, the Universidad Iberoamericana, and the Universidad de Guanajuato, who were followed up on their decision-making regarding eating habits and medically monitored to back up the data.

More than 70 percent of the population is obese or overweight and it would be desirable that in the future this condition is avoided. It is important to remember that it can lead to death.

The National Health and Nutrition Survey in Mexico revealed that in 2018 there were 82 million 767 thousand people aged 20 and over with diabetes: 13.22 percent women and 7.75 percent men.

The central question is how to attack a problem as complex as obesity; the answer is with a multidisciplinary team that includes nutritionists, psychologists, physicians, and mathematicians, among others, that allow helping make changes in behavior.

Mexicans in first and second place in childhood and adult obesity

Why are Mexicans in first and second place in childhood and adult obesity? Culture has an important influence on the way habits are formed and doctors indicate that people with obesity problems do not follow all the rules. So, if the information is available, why don't they modify their behavior, for example, determine to exercise.

In the case of each participant, health and family history was reviewed, in addition to asking them what activities they do in their day, to have a complete map of the possibilities of what they do. To corroborate this information, they were provided with actigraphs (sensors) to monitor whether the person does what he or she says.

Having obesity and managing its consequences is difficult and costly. It would be easier to serve people without the diseases caused by obesity. Currently, there are student populations that are not necessarily overweight and obese, or who are at the age where they are forming those habits.

It is essential to know the neurophysiology of behavior in decisions, to understand the areas of the brain that are activated by certain foods, in addition to their relationship with the genome to reach obesity.

It is known that highly palatable foods, that is, those rich in sugars and fats, for example, a pizza, have a very high addictive potential similar to drugs of abuse -such as alcohol or cocaine-, and the intake of these products is often related to the search for pleasure; that is, we consume food because it generates pleasure.

The data generated by the project and its participants are currently being processed, and the first statistical results of the variation in the dietary choices of the students of each of the collaborating universities will be released shortly.