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BACKGROUND: While most of the global burden from chronic diseases, and especially vascular diseases, is now borne by low and middle-income countries, few large-scale epidemiological studies of chronic diseases in such countries have been performed. METHODS: From 1998-2004, 52 584 men and 106 962 women aged > or =35 years were visited in their homes in Mexico City. Self reported diagnoses of chronic diseases and major disease risk factors were ascertained and physical measurements taken. Age- and sex-specific prevalences and means were analysed. RESULTS: After about age 50 years, diabetes was extremely common - for example, 23.8% of men and 26.9% of women aged 65-74 reported a diagnosis. By comparison, ischaemic heart disease was reported by 4.8% of men and 3.0% of women aged 65-74, a history of stroke by 2.8% and 2.3%, respectively, and a history of cancer by 1.3% and 2.1%. Cancer history was generally more common among women than men - the excess being largest in middle-age, due to breast and cervical cancer. At older ages, the gap narrowed because of an increasing prevalence of prostate cancer. 51% of men and 25% of women aged 35-54 smoked cigarettes, while 29% of men and 41% of women aged 35-54 were obese (i.e. BMI > or =30 kg/m2). The prevalence of treated hypertension or measured blood pressure > or =140/90 mmHg increased about 50% more steeply with age among women than men, to 66% of women and 58% of men aged 65-74. Physical inactivity was highly prevalent but daily alcohol drinking was relatively uncommon. CONCLUSION: Diabetes, obesity and tobacco smoking are highly prevalent among adults living in Mexico City. Long-term follow-up of this and other cohorts will establish the relevance of such factors to the major causes of death and disability in Mexico.

Original publication




Journal article


BMC Public Health

Publication Date





Adult, Age Distribution, Aged, Alcohol Drinking, Cardiovascular Diseases, Chronic Disease, Confidence Intervals, Cross-Sectional Studies, Diabetes Mellitus, Female, Humans, Male, Mexico, Middle Aged, Multivariate Analysis, Neoplasms, Obesity, Prevalence, Probability, Prospective Studies, Severity of Illness Index, Sex Distribution, Smoking, Survival Analysis, Urban Population