At the launch event of the new Dietary Guidelines for Mexico, general director of the National Center for Preventive Programs and Disease Control, Ruy López Ridaura, explained that the Intersectoral Group on Health, Food, Environment and Competitiveness (Gisamac) developed the new guidelines to address poor nutrition and to promote the health of people and the planet.
The new guidelines represent a practical tool for dietary guidance and nutritional education of the general population, health professionals at the first level of care, nursing, nutrition, health promotion, and other actors who provide nutrition education.
The Dietary Guidelines are based on 10 diet recommendations that are easy to communicate to the people in Mexico.
This work will help the population understand what to eat, what foods to reduce or what to increase”, said Mr López Ridaura.
The new guidelines respond to the need to integrate a holistic vision of the agri-food system and meet international requirements.
Saludiaro reports that Mr López Ridaura explained that the new guidelines are a key tool for the design and enforcement of public policies for food production, distribution and change in the environments where people live and work. At the same time, the recommendations can be translated into local contexts because Mexico is a diverse country in terms of culinary culture.
The new Dietary Guidelines contain recommendations on the nutrients that people in Mexico should consume daily; the amount of plain water; the products that should be avoided, as well as the type of physical activity that promotes good health and well-being.
“Mexico has the best food guide in the world”
The director of the Center for Research in Nutrition and Health of the National Institute of Public Health (INSP), Simón Barquera Cervera, acknowledged that Mexico now has the best dietary guidelines in the world.
Mr Barquera Cervera highlighted that the new Dietary Guidelines constitute a paradigm shift, since they are based on scientific evidence, followed rigorous technical development, and are supported by the consensus of a high-level multidisciplinary team, without conflicts of interest. Developing the guidelines was a process free from the participation and interference of the junk food industry.
The new dietary guidelines identify the importance for Mexicans to avoid unhealthy products, including alcohol, and warn about the importance of not using infant formulas, that is, breast milk substitutes that can cause serious damage.
The new dietary guidelines inform, guide and align policies, programs and legal instruments related to food and health in Mexico.
The dietary recommendations work for low-income populations, indigenous groups, girls and boys, and pregnant women, with a gender approach and inclusive language.
The development of the new guidelines has been possible due to the technical and financial support of the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the technical advice of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO).
Corporate diets dominate in Mexico
In Mexico corporate diets are highly prevalent, meaning unhealthy eating patterns, characterized by a low prevalence of exclusive breastfeeding, low consumption of fruits, vegetables, legumes and nuts, as well as insufficient physical activity, and high alcohol use.
In launching the guidelines, experts explained that the Mexican population must move towards healthy and sustainable eating models, that is, dietary patterns that promote people’s health and well-being; that exert less pressure on natural resources and have lower environmental impact, are accessible, affordable, safe, equitable and culturally acceptable.
Director of Nutrition Policies and Programs of the INSP, Anabelle Bonvecchio Arenas, said that healthy dietary patterns start with exclusive breastfeeding from birth to six months of age and a diet based on plant-based foods throughout life.
She explained that the guidelines are made up of recommendations that involve products, as well as resources that contribute to changing the food system towards better practices related to diet, health, nutrition and sustainability.
She added that the guidelines are part of the new food system promoted by the federal government:
- it integrates a gender-sensitive approach and equal rights, especially for vulnerable groups;
- it takes into account the environmental impact, its affordability, consumption patterns of the population, sociocultural influences of food and cultural belonging, as well as
- physical activity, and
- a section with adaptations for girls, boys and pregnant women, as well as recommendations on avoiding alcohol consumption.
The current food system in Mexico contributes to climate change and the degradation of the planet, and is part of the determinants of the global syndemic of malnutrition and obesity .
The current food system also contributes to the loss of biodiversity and excessive use of water.
The production and consumption of food worldwide generates a third of the greenhouse gas emissions that have a negative impact on climate change.
Ultra-processed products fuel environmental degradation, such as deforestation and loss of biodiversity, since they are based on monocultures, high processing and generate waste derived from packaging, among other aspects.
In Mexico, data from the Ministry of the Environment and Natural Resources (Semarnat) indicate that food production contributes 12% of greenhouse gas emissions and 60% of these emissions come from beef.
Recommendation 8: Let’s avoid alcohol consumption
Recommendation eight of the new dietary guidelines say:
Alcohol use in Mexico, 2023
In Mexico, beer is the most prevalent alcoholic type, among both by men and women in all age groups, at nearly double the consumption amount compared to any other type of alcoholic beverage.
Mexico is a high alcohol consumption country, with a heavy burden due to alcohol harm.
It is estimated that in Mexico each person consumes around 4.4 liters of pure alcohol per year, which is equivalent to more than 270 cans of beer or 110 shots of tequila. Much of this consumption is hazardous, since it occurs in short periods, mainly on weekends.
- 7 out of 10 people in Mexico have consumed alcohol at some time in their life,
- 3 out of 10 report having heavy alcohol consumption,
Very early alcohol initiation
In recent years, underage alcohol use has increased significantly:
- 4 out of 10 minors (between 12 and 17 years old) have consumed alcohol at some time in their lives, and 15% report consuming alcohol heavily.
Half of the people who consume alcohol in Mexico start alcohol use before they are 17 years old and 4 out of 10 initiate alcohol use between the ages of 18 and 25.
WHY IS THIS ALCOHOL RECOMMENDATION IMPORTANT?
- Alcohol can penetrate virtually every tissue in the body, disrupting organ function.
- Alcohol provides empty calories, that is, it provides energy without any nutrients and contributes to
- Alcohol consumption increases the risk of cancer of the mouth and pharynx, esophagus, stomach, larynx, colorectal, central nervous system, pancreas, and prostate.
- Alcohol consumption, even in small amounts, increases the risk of breast cancer in women.
- Alcohol use is associated with increased risk of accidents and all forms of violence, including family and sexual violence.
- Alcohol puts people, families and society at risk.
- The consumption of alcohol causes problems in the social relationships; for example couple and family conflicts, which can lead to isolation and situations of family disintegration; job problems or job loss; and economic problems.
- Glass bottles or aluminum cans in which alcoholic beverages are packaged also contribute to environmental deterioration.
HOW MUCH ALCOHOL IS RECOMMENDED TO DRINK?
It is recommended not to consume alcohol. If consumed, it is recommended that it be in moderation and occasionally.
HOW TO PUT THIS RECOMMENDATION INTO PRACTICE?
IT IS RECOMMENDED NOT TO CONSUME ALCOHOL, but if people do, they are advised to follow the following recommendations:
- Avoid salty or high-fat snacks, they can make you want to drink more alcohol.
- Dilute alcoholic beverages with mineral water.
- Alternate your alcoholic drinks: replace an alcoholic drink with water or a non-alcoholic drink.
- Avoid having alcohol at home, the more you have, the more likely you are to consume alcohol.
- Drink slowly and with small sips.
- Putting the glass down to the table after each sip can help you drink less alcohol in the same amount of time.
- People often consume alcohol to relieve boredom or stress. If you find yourself using alcohol when you’re bored or stressed, try to set yourself some goals, such as not using alcohol when you feel stressed, or doing something creative instead; exercise is a great distraction.
- Avoid social gatherings where alcoholic beverages are the main element.
- If consuming alcohol will be unavoidable, it is preferable not to attend and meet at another time, when alcohol use is not necessary.
- It’s common to feel social pressure to consume alcohol, even when you don’t want to.
- Remember at all times the risks and reasons why not to consume alcohol, and tell your loved ones beforehand about your decision not to take it, so that they avoid offering it insistently.
Download the Dietary Guidelines, Mexico, 2023 (PDF)