Intakes of Energy and Discretionary Food in Mexico Are Associated with the Context of Eating: Mealtime, Activity, and Place1–3

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The prevalence of obesity and the intake of discretionary foods [high saturated fat and/or added sugar (HSFAS) products and sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs)] are high in Mexico. It is important to understand whether the intakes of HSFAS products and SSBs are associated with the context in which they are consumed.


Our aim was to estimate the associations between total energy and discretionary food (HSFAS products and SSBs) intakes and the context of eating (mealtime, activity, and place).


We used data from 10,087 participants aged ≥1 y from the Mexican National Health and Nutrition Survey 2012. Dietary intake was estimated through a 24-h dietary recall that included questions on mealtime, activity, and place in which each food item was consumed. The associations between energy and discretionary food intakes and the context of eating were estimated by using multiple linear regression stratified by age group and adjusted for sociodemographic variables.


Compared with breakfast, the percentage of energy that HSFAS products contributed was 16–29 (range in all age groups) percentage points higher during midafternoon snacks and 16–23 percentage points lower at lunch and almuerzo (Mexican brunch); the percentage of energy from SSBs was 3.4–7.6 percentage points higher during midmorning snacks (P < 0.05). In many age groups and mealtimes, we found that compared with eating only while seated, the percentage of energy as HSFAS was 5.3–14 percentage points higher when watching television (P < 0.05). Compared with eating at home, the percentage of energy from HSFAS was 12–26 percentage points higher on the street and the percentage of energy from SSBs was 3.4–6.0 percentage points higher at school and 2.9–15 percentage points higher at work (P < 0.05).


These results highlight the need to promote healthier food selection among the Mexican population when snacking and watching television and healthier food environments at work, school, and on the street.

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