The number of people below the poverty line in Mexico rose by 3.2 million between 2008 and 2010 to 52 million, or 46.2 percent of the country's more than 112 million inhabitants, the National Council for the Evaluation of Social Development Policy, or Coneval, said Friday.

The increase in poverty had to do mainly with a drop in income and reduced access to food, primarily due to the global recession and spikes in the price of commodities, Coneval's executive secretary, Gonzalo Hernandez, said here at a press conference.

To reverse that trend, Mexico needs sustained economic growth and structural reforms, he said.

The figures are based on Coneval's National Survey of Household Income and Spending.

Coneval categorizes an individual as poor if he or she suffers deprivations in one or more indicators such as access to health care, food and housing, and earns less than 2,100 pesos ($179) a month in urban areas or less than 1,300 pesos ($111) per month in rural zones.

People living in extreme poverty suffer deprivations in three or more indicators and have income of less than 978 pesos ($83.50) a month in urban areas or less than 684 pesos ($58.40) a month in the rural sector.

The proportion of Mexicans who are neither poor nor "vulnerable" climbed from 18 percent to 19.3 percent, representing 21.8 million people.

The economic crisis "had a significant impact on people's incomes," but those living in urban areas were hit harder, Hernandez said.

Indeed, a difference was noted in the income trends of the urban and rural poor, with the poorest 50 percent of urban dwellers seeing their incomes fall by 7.2 percent between 2008 and 2010 while the incomes of the poorest half of the population in rural areas rose by 2.5 percent in the same period.

The economic situation of Mexico's roughly 10 million indigenous people deteriorated, as the proportion of that population living below the poverty line climbed from 75.9 percent to 79.3 percent.