Pan American Health Organization

Chapter 3 Additional world health assembly nutrition indicators

Key messages
  • In Latin America and the Caribbean, obesity affected nearly a quarter of the adult population in 2016, which is the last year with data available for this indicator. This prevalence was well above the world estimate (13.1 percent). Mesoamerica showed the highest prevalence of obesity in adults (27.3 percent), followed by the Caribbean (24.7 percent) and South America (23 percent).

  • Between 2000 and 2016, obesity in adults increased considerably in the region, up 9.5 percentage points in the Caribbean, 8.2 percentage points in Mesoamerica, and 7.2 percentage points in South America, compared to an increase of 4.4 percentage points at the global level.

  • The prevalence of exclusive breastfeeding among infants 0–5 months of age was 42.6 percent in the region in 2021, which was below the global estimate of 47.7 percent. However, there have been significant improvements in this indicator since 2012, especially in Mesoamerica which showed an increase of 16 percentage points. The prevalence in South America was 46.8 percent, in Mesoamerica 37.7 percent and in the Caribbean 31.4 percent.

  • The prevalence of low birthweight in Latin America and the Caribbean was lower than the world estimate. In 2020, the prevalence was 9.6 percent compared to 14.7 percent globally, with important differences among subregions.