Can trade in food cause obesity?

Mexico has seen a tremendous increase in obesity over the past decades, while at the same time trade in food and beverages with the US soared. This begs the question: is there a causal effect of trade in foods and beverages on the prevalence of obesity in Mexico? The Research Brief presents key research findings in 7 minutes.

Research Brief: Has International Trade Accelerated the Obesity Epidemic in Mexico?

The research was published in the leading Journal of International Economics. The findings point to a positive effect of exposure to US food experts on obesity prevalence. It demonstrates how globalization, through food, can affect the health of populations in other countries.

The research was conducted by Dr Matthias Rieger from the International Institute of Social Studies, with Dr Osea Giuntella (Assistant Professor of Economics at the University of Pittsburgh) and Dr Lorenzo Rotunno (Assistant Professor of Economics at Aix-Marseille University).


This Research Brief is for fellow academics, policy-makers, international organizations, thinktanks and practitioners interested in nutrition, public health and international trade.

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For more information about this research, please contact Dr Matthias Rieger

Assistant professor

Matthias Rieger

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The research was published in the Journal of International Economics.

O. Giuntella, M Rieger and L. Rotunno, Weight gains from trade in foods: Evidence from Mexico, Journal of International Economics.

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Has the US exported its obesity epidemic to Mexico?

Infographic of key research findings

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