Candies, sweets and chocolates in Mexico: between the market and health

06/01/2021

Mexico is the second country in Latin America in candy consumption, only behind Brazil, according to the Food Industry Chamber. Annually, Mexicans consume 4.5 kilograms of candy.

Studies consulted by the Laboratory of Data against Obesity (LabDO) indicate that, in the first eight months of 2018, the candy industry grew by 5% in volume and 12.7% in value, selling around 18 billion pesos in wholesale channels, according to ISCAM (Systematized Information on Channels and Markets).

During this period, marzipan, grenetine, and chocolate were the categories with the highest growth, with 15.9%, 14.7%, and 14.3%, respectively.

Chocolates are the most important category in the industry, representing 31% of total sales. That same year, the chocolate industry grew by 5 percent. Mexico ranks 13th in world production of this sweet.

The National Health and Nutrition Survey 2018 points out that 64.6% of children between 5 and 11 years old regularly consume snacks, candies, and desserts. Only 35.4% of the population over 20 years of age is assiduous of these products.

In the country, candies and sweets provide 6.1% of the calories provided by ultra-processed products.

Health impacts of candy consumption

The excessive intake of these products can result in affectations, since the Pan-American Health Organization warns that candies, nougats, chocolate, and confectionery in general, have an excess of free sugars, which makes them harmful to health in large quantities.

In Latin America, 8% of the food energy provided by ultra-processed products comes from candies and chocolates, which is a high proportion, only below that of soft drinks, cookies, as well as juices, and sweetened drinks.

The problem comes when considering that the calories provided by this type of food are mostly empty and contribute to the excessive consumption of sugar in the Mexican diet.

Mexico consumes around 365 kilocalories per day from this nutrient, of which 238 are free or added sugars. This represents 12.5% of the total energy consumed, which exceeds the recommendation of the World Health Organization, which indicates that the ideal is that 5% of energy comes from this nutrient.

The National Health and Nutrition Survey 2018 points out that 64.6% of children between 5 and 11 years old regularly consume snacks, sweets, and desserts.

This overeating is related to unhealthy weight gain, the development of diabetes and hypertension, as well as cardiovascular disease. In this sense, research published in the United States found an association between a diet high in sugar and a greater probability of dying from heart disease.

This longitudinal study, which followed a group of people for 15 years, concluded that people who consumed between 17 and 21% of their calories through added sugars had a 38% greater risk of dying from heart complications.

It should be noted that candies and chocolates provide 11% of the sugars present in ultra-processed foods, as well as 9% of the total fats and 13% of the saturated fats, according to data from the Pan American Health Organization.