• Overview
  • Obesity prevalence
  • Trends over time
  • Population breakdowns
  • Drivers
  • Comorbidities
  • Health systems
  • Actions
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Obesity prevalence

Adults, 2016

Survey type:Measured
Age:20+
Sample size:8412
Area covered:National
References:Encuesta Nacional de Salud y Nutrición de Medio Camino 2016
Unless otherwise noted, overweight refers to a BMI between 25kg and 29.9kg/m², obesity refers to a BMI greater than 30kg/m².

Adults, 2012

Survey type:Measured
Age:20+
Sample size:38620
Area covered:National
References:ENSANUT 2012 http://ensanut.insp.mx/informes/ENSANUT2012ResultadosNacionales.pdf accessed 25th June 2014
Unless otherwise noted, overweight refers to a BMI between 25kg and 29.9kg/m², obesity refers to a BMI greater than 30kg/m².

Adults, 2006

Survey type:Measured
Age:20+
Sample size:33624
Area covered:National
References:Olaiz-Fernández G, Rivera-Dommarco J, Shamah-Levy T, Rojas R, Villalpando-Hernández S, Hernández-Avila M, Sepúlveda-Amor J. Encuesta Nacional de Salud y Nutrición 2006. Cuernavaca, México: Instituto Nacional de Salud Pública, 2006. (National Health and Nutrition Survey 2006).
Unless otherwise noted, overweight refers to a BMI between 25kg and 29.9kg/m², obesity refers to a BMI greater than 30kg/m².

Adults, 2000

Survey type:Measured
Age:20-69
Sample size:41188
References:Personal Communication from Dr C Sanchez Castillio, Body Mass Index cutoff points for Type 2 Diabetes Melliuts and Hypertension in the Mexican National Health Survey 2000.
Unless otherwise noted, overweight refers to a BMI between 25kg and 29.9kg/m², obesity refers to a BMI greater than 30kg/m².

Adults, 1992-1993

Survey type:Measured
Age:20+
Sample size:14392
References:Arroyo et al. Prevalence of Pre-Obesity and Obesity in Urban Adult Mexicans in Comparison with other Large Surveys. Obesity Research. 2000;8:179-185
Notes:Urban
Unless otherwise noted, overweight refers to a BMI between 25kg and 29.9kg/m², obesity refers to a BMI greater than 30kg/m².

Women, 1988

Survey type:Measured
Age:18-49
Sample size:12138
References:Rivera JA, BarqueraS, Campirano F, Campos I, Safdie M, Tovar V. Epidemiological and nutritional transition in Mexico:rapid increase of non-communicable chronic diseases and obesity. Public Health Nutrition 2002. 5(1A), 113-122
Unless otherwise noted, overweight refers to a BMI between 25kg and 29.9kg/m², obesity refers to a BMI greater than 30kg/m².

Children, 2016

Survey type:Measured
Age:12-19
Sample size:2581
Area covered:National
References:Shamah-Levy T, Cuevas-Nasu L, Gaona-Pineda EB,Gómez-Acosta LM, Morales-Ruán MC,Hernández-Ávila M, Rivera-Dommarco JA. Overweight and obesity in children and adolescents,2016 Halfway National Health and Nutrition Survey update. Salud Publica Mex 2018;60:244-253.
Notes:WHO Growth Ref Standard
Cutoffs:WHO

Children, 2012

Survey type:Measured
Age:5-11
Sample size:16351
Area covered:National
References:ENSANUT 2012 http://ensanut.insp.mx/informes/ENSANUT2012ResultadosNacionales.pdf accessed 25th June 2014
Notes:WHO Cut off NOT: International IOTF Cut off
Cutoffs:WHO

Children, 2006

Survey type:Measured
Age:5-17
Sample size:17158
Area covered:National
References:Encuesta nacional de salud y nutricion 2006
Notes:IOTF Cut off. Reference: Cole TJ, Bellizzi MC, Flegal KM, Dietz WH. Establishing a standard definition for child overweight and obesity worldwide: International survey. BMJ. 2000 May 6;320(7244):1240-3.
Cutoffs:IOTF

Children, 2000

Survey type:Measured
Age:10-17
References:del Rio-Navarro B, Velazquez-Monroy O, Sanchez-Castillo CP et al. The High Prevalence of Overweight and Obesity in Mexican Children. Obesity Research 2004;12:215-223
Notes:IOTF Cut off. Reference: Cole TJ, Bellizzi MC, Flegal KM, Dietz WH. Establishing a standard definition for child overweight and obesity worldwide: International survey. BMJ. 2000 May 6;320(7244):1240-3.
Cutoffs:IOTF

Children, 1995

Survey type:Measured
Age:5-17
Sample size:2853
References:Personal Communication - Sanchez Castillo C, National Institute of Nutrition, Mexico. Data from Encuesta Urbana de Alimentación y Nutrición en la Zona Metropolitana de la Ciudad de México, 1995.
Notes:IOTF Cut off. Reference: Cole TJ, Bellizzi MC, Flegal KM, Dietz WH. Establishing a standard definition for child overweight and obesity worldwide: International survey. BMJ. 2000 May 6;320(7244):1240-3.
Cutoffs:IOTF

Overweight/obesity by education

Women, 2012

Survey type:Measured
Age:20-49
Sample size:4943
Area covered:National
References:Perez Ferrer C, McMunn A, Rivera Dommarco JA, Brunner EJ. Educational Inequalities in Obesity among Mexican Women: Time-Trends from 1988 to 2012. Miranda JJ, ed. PLoS
Notes:Obesity Prevalence based on Education level in Rural areas
Unless otherwise noted, overweight refers to a BMI between 25kg and 29.9kg/m², obesity refers to a BMI greater than 30kg/m².

Women, 2012

Survey type:Measured
Age:20-49
Sample size:9588
Area covered:National
References:Perez Ferrer C, McMunn A, Rivera Dommarco JA, Brunner EJ. Educational Inequalities in Obesity among Mexican Women: Time-Trends from 1988 to 2012. Miranda JJ, ed. PLoS
Notes:Obesity Prevalence based on Education level in Urban areas.
Unless otherwise noted, overweight refers to a BMI between 25kg and 29.9kg/m², obesity refers to a BMI greater than 30kg/m².

Adults, 2009-2010

Survey type:Measured
Age:50+
Sample size:2032
Area covered:National
References:Rivas-Marino, G., Negin, J., Salinas-Rodríguez, A., Manrique-Espinoza, B., Sterner, K. N., Snodgrass, J. and Kowal, P. (2015), Prevalence of overweight and obesity in older Mexican adults and its association with physical activity and related factors: An analysis of the study on global ageing and adult health. Am. J. Hum. Biol., 27: 326–333. doi: 10.1002/ajhb.22642
Unless otherwise noted, overweight refers to a BMI between 25kg and 29.9kg/m², obesity refers to a BMI greater than 30kg/m².

Overweight/obesity by age

Children, 2016

Survey type:Measured
Sample size:5765
Area covered:National
References:Shamah-Levy T, Cuevas-Nasu L, Gaona-Pineda EB,Gómez-Acosta LM, Morales-Ruán MC,Hernández-Ávila M, Rivera-Dommarco JA. Overweight and obesity in children and adolescents,2016 Halfway National Health and Nutrition Survey update. Salud Publica Mex 2018;60:244-253.
Cutoffs:WHO

Children, 2012

Survey type:Measured
Sample size:Large National Survey
Area covered:National
References:La Encuesta Nacional de Salud y Nutrición 2012 (ENSANUT2012) http://ensanut.insp.mx/ (last accessed 4 April 2016)
Notes:WHO Cut-Off
Cutoffs:WHO

Overweight/obesity by region

Women, 2012

Survey type:Measured
Age:20-49
Sample size:14531
Area covered:National
References:Perez Ferrer C, McMunn A, Rivera Dommarco JA, Brunner EJ. Educational Inequalities in Obesity among Mexican Women: Time-Trends from 1988 to 2012. Miranda JJ, ed. PLoS
Unless otherwise noted, overweight refers to a BMI between 25kg and 29.9kg/m², obesity refers to a BMI greater than 30kg/m².

Adults, 2012

Survey type:Measured
Age:20+
Area covered:National
References:Encuesta Nacional de Salud y Nutricion, Resultados Nacionales 2012
Unless otherwise noted, overweight refers to a BMI between 25kg and 29.9kg/m², obesity refers to a BMI greater than 30kg/m².

Adults, 2009-2010

Survey type:Measured
Age:50+
Sample size:2032
Area covered:National
References:Rivas-Marino, G., Negin, J., Salinas-Rodríguez, A., Manrique-Espinoza, B., Sterner, K. N., Snodgrass, J. and Kowal, P. (2015), Prevalence of overweight and obesity in older Mexican adults and its association with physical activity and related factors: An analysis of the study on global ageing and adult health. Am. J. Hum. Biol., 27: 326–333. doi: 10.1002/ajhb.22642
Unless otherwise noted, overweight refers to a BMI between 25kg and 29.9kg/m², obesity refers to a BMI greater than 30kg/m².

Children, 2006

Survey type:Measured
Age:5-11
Sample size:Children aged 5-11yr: n=15111
Area covered:National: Mexican National Health and Nutrition Survey 2006 (ENSANUT 2006)
References:Bonvecchio A, Safdie M, Monterrubio EA, Gust T, Villalpando S, Rivera JA. Overweight and obesity trends in Mexican children 2 to 18 years of age from 1988 to 2006. Salud Publica Mex 2009;51 suppl 4:S586-S594.
Notes:Overweight and obesity were classified according to IOTF criteria, based on BMI measurements, with cutoff points for BMI based on an international reference population drafted from seven countries, specific for age and sex. Said cutoff points are a projection of the criteria proposed by WHO for diagnosing overweight (BMI of 25-29.9) and obesity (BMI of 30 or more) in adults.
Cutoffs:IOTF

Children, 2006

Survey type:Measured
Age:5-11
Sample size:Children aged 5-11yr: n=15111
Area covered:National: Mexican National Health and Nutrition Survey 2006 (ENSANUT 2006)
References:Bonvecchio A, Safdie M, Monterrubio EA, Gust T, Villalpando S, Rivera JA. Overweight and obesity trends in Mexican children 2 to 18 years of age from 1988 to 2006. Salud Publica Mex 2009;51 suppl 4:S586-S594.
Notes:Overweight and obesity were classified according to IOTF criteria, based on BMI measurements, with cutoff points for BMI based on an international reference population drafted from seven countries, specific for age and sex. Said cutoff points are a projection of the criteria proposed by WHO for diagnosing overweight (BMI of 25-29.9) and obesity (BMI of 30 or more) in adults.
Cutoffs:IOTF

Boys, 2000

Survey type:Measured
Age:10-17
Sample size:7862 Girls, 8947 Boys
Area covered:National
References:del Rio-Navarro BE, Velaquez-Monroy O, Sanchez-Castillo CP et al. The High Prevalence of Overweight and Obesity in Mexican Children. Obesity Research 2004;12:215-223
Cutoffs:IOTF

Girls, 2000

Survey type:Measured
Age:10-17
Sample size:7862 Girls, 8947 Boys
Area covered:National
References:del Rio-Navarro BE, Velaquez-Monroy O, Sanchez-Castillo CP et al. The High Prevalence of Overweight and Obesity in Mexican Children. Obesity Research 2004;12:215-223
Cutoffs:IOTF

Overweight/obesity by socio-economic group

Adults, 2009-2010

Survey type:Measured
Age:50+
Sample size:2032
Area covered:National
References:Rivas-Marino, G., Negin, J., Salinas-Rodríguez, A., Manrique-Espinoza, B., Sterner, K. N., Snodgrass, J. and Kowal, P. (2015), Prevalence of overweight and obesity in older Mexican adults and its association with physical activity and related factors: An analysis of the study on global ageing and adult health. Am. J. Hum. Biol., 27: 326–333. doi: 10.1002/ajhb.22642
Notes:Prevalence of obesity in older Mexican adults (50+)
Unless otherwise noted, overweight refers to a BMI between 25kg and 29.9kg/m², obesity refers to a BMI greater than 30kg/m².

Children, 2006

Survey type:Measured
Age:5-11
Sample size:Children aged 5-11yr: n=15111
Area covered:National: Mexican National Health and Nutrition Survey 2006 (ENSANUT 2006)
References:Bonvecchio A, Safdie M, Monterrubio EA, Gust T, Villalpando S, Rivera JA. Overweight and obesity trends in Mexican children 2 to 18 years of age from 1988 to 2006. Salud Publica Mex 2009;51 suppl 4:S586-S594.
Notes:Prevalence of overweight and obesity by Socioeconomic Level. Overweight and obesity were classified according to IOTF criteria, based on BMI measurements, with cutoff points for BMI based on an international reference population drafted from seven countries, specific for age and sex. Said cutoff points are a projection of the criteria proposed by WHO for diagnosing overweight (BMI of 25-29.9) and obesity (BMI of 30 or more) in adults.
Cutoffs:IOTF

Insufficient physical activity

Adults, 2016

References:Guthold R, Stevens GA, Riley LM, Bull FC. Worldwide trends in insufficient physical activity from 2001 to 2016: a pooled analysis of 358 population-based surveys with 1.9 million participants. Lancet 2018 http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/S2214-109X(18)30357-7

Men, 2016

References:Guthold R, Stevens GA, Riley LM, Bull FC. Worldwide trends in insufficient physical activity from 2001 to 2016: a pooled analysis of 358 population-based surveys with 1.9 million participants. Lancet 2018 http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/S2214-109X(18)30357-7

Women, 2016

References:Guthold R, Stevens GA, Riley LM, Bull FC. Worldwide trends in insufficient physical activity from 2001 to 2016: a pooled analysis of 358 population-based surveys with 1.9 million participants. Lancet 2018 http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/S2214-109X(18)30357-7

Estimated per-capita fruit intake

Adults, 2017

Survey type:Measured
Age:25+
References:Global Burden of Disease, the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation http://ghdx.healthdata.org/
Definitions:Estimated per-capita fruit intake (g/day)

Estimated per-capita processed meat intake

Adults, 2017

Survey type:Measured
Age:25+
References:Global Burden of Disease, the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation http://ghdx.healthdata.org/
Definitions:Estimated per-capita processed meat intake (g per day)

Estimated per-capita whole grains intake

Adults, 2017

Survey type:Measured
Age:25+
References:Global Burden of Disease, the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation http://ghdx.healthdata.org/
Definitions:Estimated per-capita whole grains intake (g/day)

Mental health - depression disorders

Adults, 2015

References:Prevalence data from Global Burden of Disease study 2015 (http://ghdx.healthdata.org) published in: Depression and Other Common Mental Disorders: Global Health Estimates. Geneva:World Health Organization; 2017. Licence: CC BY-NC-SA 3.0 IGO.
Definitions:% of population with depression disorders

Mental health - anxiety disorders

Adults, 2015

References:Prevalence data from Global Burden of Disease study 2015 (http://ghdx.healthdata.org) published in: Depression and Other Common Mental Disorders: Global Health Estimates. Geneva:World Health Organization; 2017. Licence: CC BY-NC-SA 3.0 IGO.
Definitions:% of population with anxiety disorders

Oesophageal cancer

Men, 2018

Age:20+
References:Global Cancer Observatory, Cancer incidence rates http://gco.iarc.fr/ (last accessed 30th June 2020)
Definitions:Estimated age-standardized incidence rates (World) in 2018, oesophagus, adults ages 20+. ASR (World) per 100,000

Women, 2018

Age:20+
References:Global Cancer Observatory, Cancer incidence rates http://gco.iarc.fr/ (last accessed 30th June 2020)
Definitions:Estimated age-standardized incidence rates (World) in 2018, oesophagus, adults ages 20+. ASR (World) per 100,000

Breast cancer

Women, 2018

Age:20+
References:Global Cancer Observatory, Cancer incidence rates http://gco.iarc.fr/ (last accessed 30th June 2020)
Definitions:Estimated age-standardized incidence rates (World) in 2018, breast, females, ages 20+. ASR (World) per 100,000

Colorectal cancer

Men, 2018

Age:20+
References:Global Cancer Observatory, Cancer incidence rates http://gco.iarc.fr/ (last accessed 30th June 2020)
Definitions:Estimated age-standardized incidence rates (World) in 2018, colorectum, adults, ages 20+. ASR (World) per 100,000

Women, 2018

Age:20+
References:Global Cancer Observatory, Cancer incidence rates http://gco.iarc.fr/ (last accessed 30th June 2020)
Definitions:Estimated age-standardized incidence rates (World) in 2018, colorectum, adults, ages 20+. ASR (World) per 100,000

Pancreatic cancer

Men, 2018

Age:20+
References:Global Cancer Observatory, Cancer incidence rates http://gco.iarc.fr/ (last accessed 30th June 2020)
Definitions:Estimated age-standardized incidence rates (World) in 2018, pancreas, adults, ages 20+. ASR (World) per 100,000

Women, 2018

Age:20+
References:Global Cancer Observatory, Cancer incidence rates http://gco.iarc.fr/ (last accessed 30th June 2020)
Definitions:Estimated age-standardized incidence rates (World) in 2018, pancreas, adults, ages 20+. ASR (World) per 100,000

Gallbladder cancer

Men, 2018

Age:20+
References:Global Cancer Observatory, Cancer incidence rates http://gco.iarc.fr/ (last accessed 30th June 2020)
Definitions:Estimated age-standardized incidence rates (World) in 2018, gallbladder, adults, ages 20+. ASR (World) per 100,000

Women, 2018

Age:20+
References:Global Cancer Observatory, Cancer incidence rates http://gco.iarc.fr/ (last accessed 30th June 2020)
Definitions:Estimated age-standardized incidence rates (World) in 2018, gallbladder, adults, ages 20+. ASR (World) per 100,000

Kidney cancer

Men, 2018

Age:20+
References:Global Cancer Observatory, Cancer incidence rates http://gco.iarc.fr/ (last accessed 30th June 2020)
Definitions:Estimated age-standardized incidence rates (World) in 2018, kidney, adults, ages 20+. ASR (World) per 100,000

Women, 2018

Age:20+
References:Global Cancer Observatory, Cancer incidence rates http://gco.iarc.fr/ (last accessed 30th June 2020)
Definitions:Estimated age-standardized incidence rates (World) in 2018, kidney, adults, ages 20+. ASR (World) per 100,000

Cancer of the uterus

Women, 2018

Age:20+
References:Global Cancer Observatory, Cancer incidence rates http://gco.iarc.fr/ (last accessed 30th June 2020)
Definitions:Estimated age-standardized incidence rates (World) in 2018, cervix uteri, females, ages 20+. ASR (World) per 100,000

Raised blood pressure

Adults, 2015

References:Global Health Observatory data repository, World Health Organisation, http://apps.who.int/gho/data/node.main.A875?lang=en
Definitions:Age Standardised estimated % Raised blood pressure 2015 (SBP>=140 OR DBP>=90).

Men, 2015

References:Global Health Observatory data repository, World Health Organisation, http://apps.who.int/gho/data/node.main.A875?lang=en
Definitions:Age Standardised estimated % Raised blood pressure 2015 (SBP>=140 OR DBP>=90).

Women, 2015

References:Global Health Observatory data repository, World Health Organisation, http://apps.who.int/gho/data/node.main.A875?lang=en
Definitions:Age Standardised estimated % Raised blood pressure 2015 (SBP>=140 OR DBP>=90).

Raised cholesterol

Adults, 2008

References:Global Health Observatory data repository, World Health Organisation, http://apps.who.int/gho/data/node.main.A885
Definitions:% Raised total cholesterol (>= 5.0 mmol/L) (age-standardized estimate).

Men, 2008

References:Global Health Observatory data repository, World Health Organisation, http://apps.who.int/gho/data/node.main.A885
Definitions:% Raised total cholesterol (>= 5.0 mmol/L) (age-standardized estimate).

Women, 2008

References:Global Health Observatory data repository, World Health Organisation, http://apps.who.int/gho/data/node.main.A885
Definitions:% Raised total cholesterol (>= 5.0 mmol/L) (age-standardized estimate).

Raised fasting blood glucose

Men, 2014-2019

References:Global Health Observatory data repository, World Health Organisation, http://apps.who.int/gho/data/node.main.A869?lang=en
Definitions:Age Standardised % raised fasting blood glucose (>= 7.0 mmol/L or on medication).

Women, 2014-2019

References:Global Health Observatory data repository, World Health Organisation, http://apps.who.int/gho/data/node.main.A869?lang=en
Definitions:Age Standardised % raised fasting blood glucose (>= 7.0 mmol/L or on medication).

Diabetes prevalence

Adults, 2017

References:Reproduced with kind permission of IDF, International Diabetes Federation. IDF Diabetes Atlas, 8th edition. Brussels, Belgium: International Diabetes Federation, 2017. http://www.diabetesatlas.org
Definitions:Diabetes age-adjusted comparative prevalence (%).

Health systems

Economic classification: Upper Middle Income

Health systems summary

The Mexican Health System is complex; made up of public healthcare and employer-funded insurance schemes as well as private health insurance schemes that involve out of pocket payment. Employees of the state are provided for by the Institute for Social Security and Services, while non-state employees are provided for through the Mexican Institute of Social Security. Employees of the navy, armed forces and oil industry all have their own arrangements. For those that are unemployed or are in poverty, healthcare is provided for through Sistema de Protección Social en Salud (Seguro Popular). Serguro Popular was introduced as a step towards ensuring Universal Health Coverage in Mexico and currently covers approximately 42.2% of the population. Those covered receive selected healthcare treatments free at the point of service. The poorest Mexicans do not have to contribute to the scheme while those with an income pay a small fee based on earnings. Still, however, out of pocket payments remain high at 41% of total health expenditure.

One of the main drawbacks to the Mexican health system is the lack of continuity of care. If you are in one system you usually cannot use the facilities of another (with some exceptions). This means that if employment status changes during treatment individuals often must switch facilities.

Indicators

Where is the country’s government in the journey towards defining ‘Obesity as a disease’?Some progress
Where is the country’s healthcare provider in the journey towards defining ‘Obesity as a disease’?Some progress
In practice, how is obesity treatment largely funded?Out of pocket
Is there specialist training available dedicated to the training of health professionals to prevent, diagnose, treat and manage obesity?No
Have any taxes or subsidies been put in place to protect/assist/inform the population around obesity?Yes
Are there adequate numbers of trained health professionals in specialties relevant to obesity in urban areas?Partial
Are there adequate numbers of trained health professionals in specialties relevant to obesity in rural areas?No
Are there any obesity-specific recommendations or guidelines published for adults?Yes
Are there any obesity-specific recommendations or guidelines published for children?Partial

Perceived barriers to treatment

  • Lack of political will, interest, and action
  • Food cost and availability
  • Lack of training for healthcare professionals
  • Poor health literacy and behaviour
  • Obesity not recognised as a disease

Summary of stakeholder feedback

In Mexico, obesity is said to be increasingly prioritised by the government, with slow shifts towards recognising it as a disease. This is partly due to the high and increasingly prevalence and the impact this is having on the health system. Many healthcare professionals are said to consider obesity only as a risk factor for other diseases, with many considering it to be a problem of the individual. As a result, people living with obesity are routinely stigmatised within the health system.

Stakeholders reported that the typical cut off used for initiating treatment is BMI ≥ 30 Kg/m² but government funding tends to not be given for obesity itself but rather obesity-related co-morbidities. Treatment within the public system is therefore limited, with long waiting times between appointments, a lack of personalised treatment and low success rates. In the private system on the other hand, there tends to be more successful weight loss and more treatment options (e.g. psychological and behavioural treatments). Unfortunately, this treatment in the private system is usually paid for out of pocket because of the lack of insurance coverage for obesity treatment. Obesity treatment in Mexico is therefore inaccessible for many and only those that have comorbidities enter the system in the first place.

It was noted that although Mexico has clinical guidelines and a national obesity strategy, both are not fully implemented. Stakeholders felt that the obesity strategy does not go far enough and so despite the prevention campaigns and the introduction of taxes, obesity rates are still rising, particularly in rural areas and among children.

Stakeholders also agreed that appropriate specialist obesity training is limited in Mexico. As a result, there are limited obesity specialists in urban areas, with virtually none in rural areas. This situation is worsened by private hospitals promoting ‘bariatric tourism’ that results in qualified bariatric surgeons focussing on treating overseas visitors.

Innovative technologies to connect rural populations to primary health care centres have been trialed in Mexico but success has been limited by lack of internet access in these areas. Other applications are said to have limited uptake.

Based on interviews/survey returns from 20 stakeholders

Last updated: June 2020

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