The Mexican Dietary and Physical Activity Guidelines: Moving Public Nutrition Forward in a Globalized World1–3

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Abstract

The objective of this article is to explain the process of the development of and to assess the Mexican food-based dietary and physical activity guidelines (FBDGs). The FBDGs were developed by an intersectoral and interdisciplinary committee of 11 national experts with input from 11 external advisors. The sectors represented were research and academic institutions, the Ministry of Health, and a nongovernmental organization. The evidence-based process included the following: literature reviews of local, national, and international evidence; review of dietary patterns of the Mexican population; key national and international recommendations; and review of FBDGs and visual icons from other countries. The guidelines' report follows the life-course socioecological model rooted in a deep understanding of the epidemiology and underlying causes of malnutrition in Mexico. The guidelines are summarized in 10 pretested main recommendations that include, and go beyond, simply promoting the consumption of a healthy and varied diet that includes fresh fruits, vegetables, legumes, and whole grains and staying within caloric needs and staying active. The guidelines strongly emphasize healthy cooking habits, enjoyable meals with family and friends, drinking water, and avoiding the consumption of sweetened beverages, grain-based desserts, and highly processed foods. Detailed guidelines specific to different groups (on the basis of age and physiologic status) are also included. An innovative aspect of the Mexican FBDGs is the inclusion of dietary guidance of children <2 y of age. Future editions of these guidelines should consider removing their emphasis on dietary cholesterol and total dietary fat and placing more attention on the substitution of saturated and trans fats with healthy oils. The process of national agenda setting, policy articulation, and implementation of the Mexican FBDGs in the context of addressing the national obesity epidemic deserves to be initiated and formally assessed through the lens of evidence-based, public nutrition complex adaptive systems.

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