Salud Mental

Energy imbalance and psychosocial imbalance in the construction of child obesity in a marginalized area of Mexico City


Bernardo Turnbull
Marco González Unzaga
Gloria Oliva Martínez Andrade
Rocío Sánchez García
Ericka Escalante Izeta


Introduction. Child obesity is a growing phenomenon and marginalized communities in Mexico City are not exempt from it. The results achieved by frequent preventive and remedial interventions are still unacceptable.

Objective. To contribute to the understanding of the growing problem of child obesity and overweight through a community health approach capable of transcending the biological perspective in order to improve interventions.

Method. We observed and interviewed a sample of school children, some overweight, some obese, and some with a normal BMI. All observations and interviews were carried out in the children’s daily environment. We also interviewed some of their mothers. Together with our field notes, we analyzed these testimonies to construct the Grounded Theory that is the output of the present study.

Results. We found the children and their families immersed in a toxic environment that, through several mechanisms, fosters the consumption of high-density foods and discourages physical activity. We also found that the resources and competencies that families could use to fend off this environment are, at present, very limited.

Discussion and conclusion. We concluded that the energy imbalance in overweight and obese children’s bodies corresponds to an abysmal psychosocial imbalance between the forces that foster obesity and the resources of the families affected by it. Any intervention aimed at preventing obesity must take this psychosocial imbalance into account.

Pediatric obesity, social environment, toxic, Grounded Theory


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