Health inequalities in Latin American and the Caribbean: child, adolescent, reproductive, metabolic syndrome and mental health

  • In the last 30 years, the region has shifted from a burden of disease dominated by maternal, neonatal, and communicable diseases to one dominated by non-communicable diseases (NCDs) and increasingly by mental health disorders. Although health disparities are significant in adulthood (i.e., NCDs), these disparities are even more pronounced during childhood and adolescence.


  • The region is facing a challenging double burden of child malnutrition, with stunting more prevalent amongst the poorest, and child overweight amongst the richest. Stunting is more prevalent in rural areas, while overweight is more prevalent in urban areas. Socio-economic inequalities in stunting are still more severe than those of overweight.


  • There are extremely large socio-economic disparities in teenage pregnancy and unwanted pregnancies. Women also experience higher rates of depression, and obesity. Men face much worse rates of diagnosis and treatment of hypertension, diabetes and high cholesterol.


  • While the prevalence of hypertension and depression tends to be more prevalent amongst the least educated, obesity rates in middle income countries tend to concentrate on the most educated as opposed to the case in higher income countries.


  • Socio-economic inequalities in child health are smaller in higher income countries, while the contrary happens with inequalities in hypertension and adult obesity.

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