MEXICO CITY — Mexican officials say about 12% of Mexicans suffer from malnutrition, a situation they blamed in part on consumption of junk food. Officials told legislators the problem is more common in rural areas.
Simón Barquera, the head of the country’s health and nutrition research center, said marketing and junk food were the main drivers of unhealthy consumption patterns.
“Marketing, economic interests and the influence of the junk food industry are the main drivers of consumption patterns in the Mexican population that create health problems,” Barquera said.
However, poverty also clearly plays a role. Mexico’s commission for poverty measurement said that in 2020, 22.5% of Mexicans lacked enough income to buy quality, nutritious foods for themselves and their families.
About 43.9% of Mexicans, or about 55 million people, live below the poverty line, which means they can’t pay for all their needs.
Consumer groups in Mexico have long complained that soft drinks and snacks are heavily marketed in rural areas, where they are sometimes seen as better, more prestigious or more addictive foods than the traditional diet of corn, beans, rice and chiles.