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In Mexico, the average consumption of soft drinks reaches 163 liters per person annually - Photo: REUTERS

Processed food consumption continues to rise

13/12/2017
14:19
Newsroom
Mexico City
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The quick pace of life has resulted in people having less time to cook at home which has lead to the increased consumption of processed foods that more often than not are low in vitamins and high in fat, sugar, and sodium

The quick pace of life has resulted in people having less time to cook at home which has lead to the increased consumption of processed foods that more often than not are low in vitamins and high in fat, sugar, and sodium.

"We eat, not very well, the food is not tasty, but we eat fast.” It is necessary to inquire if that benefits our lives, because the food intake should go beyond covering the nutritional requirement of the day.

"Eating should involve taste, pleasure, and company, but that does not happen anymore," said Ana Berenice de la Barrera, Head of the subprogram of Support for Food Teaching of the University Program of Food (PUAL) of the UNAM.

Ana Berenice de la Barrera highlighted that even though processed foods are highly consumed in urban areas due to their price, in rural areas there has been an increase in the consumption of carbonated drinks.

In Mexico, the average consumption of carbonated drinks reaches 163 liters per person annually. "A risk factor for obesity and diabetes epidemics along with cardiovascular diseases that are increasingly present at younger ages among the population. We are facing the first generation of children who, due to the early presence of risk factors, could increase the risk of dying before their parents, and that is not evolution," she assured.

Thus, in 2012 red flags were set and the 2010 regulation regarding food labeling (Mexican Official Norm NOM-051) had to be modified in 2015.

“The Mexican government published a new version of the Mexican Official Standard: NOM-051-SCFI/SSA1-2010: 'General labeling and sanitary specifications for pre-packaged food and non-alcoholic beverages',” the update reads.

With the update, it was intended to regulate processed food consumption, "yet, the industry moved in an interesting way, given the limitation of no more than 50 kilocalories per container, their strategy was to make presentations with less quantity.

"For instance, an innocent juice box went from 250 milliliters and 84 kilocalories to 125 milliliters and 42 kilocalories, at a lower cost; nonetheless, instead of buying just one juice box, the child buys two; not only spending more money but consuming the same amount of product and discarding two containers. Thus, it is necessary to be aware of the way we consume and why we allow ourselves to be manipulated in such a way."

Processed food also contains additives, substances that the industry uses to preserve flavor or enhance its taste, appearance, or other qualities, but studies show that it is not as convenient to ingest additives, because in the long run they could lead to a series of diseases, warned Ana Berenice de la Barrera.

In the PUAL, at least two courses per year are carried out on nutrition, gastronomy, management and safety systems addressed to both consumers and food workers.

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