According to data from the World Health Organization (WHO), 13 percent of the adult population in the world is overweight or obese, while in Latin America, the World Bank report, presented in 2020, recorded that 6 out of every 10 people over the age of 20 are obese.
The latest National Health and Nutrition Survey (Ensanut) indicated that in Mexico, the age group between 30 and 59 years old is the one with the highest levels of obesity: 35 percent of men and 46 percent of women. This problem is not only for adults, as UNICEF emphasized that, in the country, "1 out of every 20 children under 5 years old and 1 out of every 3 between 6 and 19 years old suffers from overweight or obesity", placing the country among one of the first in the world.
In the Diagnostic Study of the Right to Nutritious and Quality Food 2018, the National Council for the Evaluation of Social Development Policy (Coneval) states that in Mexico there is a predominance of foods with low or no nutritional quality such as cereals and sugary drinks, sweet and salty snacks, as well as fast food, as they all have a high content of fat, salt, and sugar.
Lack of access to quality food is related to one of the world's most serious problems: obesity. This disease develops because a person eats more than he/she spends on energy; however, quality is the most important thing, since the food ingested is energy-dense and does not provide the necessary nutrients. In fact, the most consumed products by both adults and children are sweetened beverages, as well as snacks, sweets, and desserts; the least consumed are vegetables, fruits, and eggs, one of the most accessible proteins.
There is a relationship between micronutrients and this disease, since the lack of vitamins A, D, B, as well as minerals such as zinc, iron, and calcium increase adipose tissue and inflammatory activity. However, not everything is due to the bad habits of Mexicans because the quality of food may depend on the access and availability of nutrient-rich products.
Geographic location becomes an essential factor to know the food accessibility of a person or a community. There are cases in which individuals may not obtain the necessary nutrients by following some type of diet, in which the portions or foods lack adequate balance. Some may be more detrimental in children and adolescents because they are the ones who need more nutrients during growth.
One of the diets that can be chosen because it complies with WHO recommendations, and has the quantity/quality ratio is the milpa diet, a food model of Mesoamerican origin that is based on the combination of a legume and a cereal, for example, beans and tortilla; by combining them we are guaranteeing the contribution of a protein of high biological value. This model has the benefit of being based on quality foods that are easily accessible to the population since they can be harvested or obtained in their region.
To put a stop to this obesity epidemic, it is necessary to create tools to evaluate the quality of food according to the population and the context in which they live, as well as to maintain certain habits of physical activity and rest. Similarly, the National Agreement for Food Health recommends increasing the availability, accessibility, and consumption of drinking water, as well as reducing the consumption of fats, sugars, and sodium, and opting for vegetables, legumes, whole-grain cereals, and fiber in the diet that do represent a nutritional contribution.