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Between 1998 and 2004, CTSU, in collaboration with the Mexican Ministry of Health, established a study in Mexico City, in which over 150,000 middle-aged adults (including 100,000 women and 50,000 men) provided information about their lifestyle and disease history, had physical measurements recorded (including weight, waist and hip circumference, blood pressure) and had a blood sample taken.

All participants are now being tracked for mortality through linkage to Mexican national mortality databases; by January 2016, about 20,000 were confirmed to have died. By relating participants' characteristics at recruitment to death over the following decades, this study is now investigating the main environmental and biological causes of premature death in Mexico.

A resurvey of 10,000 surviving participants (2015 - 2018) captured how lifestyles, physical and biological measurements and treatments for disease (e.g. diabetes) have changed over time. The resurvey also allowed us to better assess the relevance to premature death of characteristics that can vary over time (such as adiposity, diabetes, blood pressure, smoking and alcohol consumption). It also included various ‘enhancements’ (such as bioimpedance, lung function and the collection of a urine sample).

The Mexico City Prospective Study offers an opportunity to study within a single large cohort the social, lifestyle, physical, metabolic and genetic causes of disease in a Latin-American population. The study is being done in collaboration with the National Autonomous University of Mexico in Mexico City and has received funding from the Mexican Ministry of Health (Secretaria de Salud), the Mexican National Council of Science and Technology (Consejo Nacional de Ciencia y Tecnologia), the British Heart Foundation, the UK Medical Research Council, and the UK Wellcome Trust (grant number 058299/Z/99).

Recent results: Diabetes and cause-specific mortality

At recruitment, nearly half of women and one-third of men aged 50-59 were obese (ie, had a BMI ≥30 kg/m2) and by age 60 more than 1-in-5 had a confirmed diagnosis of diabetes. Of those with previously-diagnosed diabetes, analysis of blood samples revealed that blood sugar was on average poorly controlled. Over the next 12 years, those with diabetes had four times the overall death rate at ages 35-74 compared with people without diabetes. (In comparison, in high-income countries people with diabetes have been found to have only about twice the death rate of other people.) The biggest excess risk of death among people with diabetes was from kidney disease, followed by heart and other vascular disease, infection and acute diabetic crises (also reflecting poor blood sugar control).

Overall, the excess mortality among people with diabetes accounted for at least one-third of all deaths between the ages 35-74 years, which is twice what previous studies had suggested.

The full paper is avaliable to view here.

data access

We welcome requests from researchers who wish to access data from the Mexico City Prospective Study. The data currently available include the baseline data for all 159,755 participants and the linked cause-specific mortality data (to 1 January 2016).

If you are interested in obtaining data from the study for research purposes, or in collaborating with us on a specific research proposal, please read our Data and Sample Access Policy (in English or Spanish) for full information on how to apply. You can also email us at with any specific queries about data access or about the study in general.

To find out more about the Nuffield Department of Population Health’s general approach to data access, please read its data access policy.


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