Alfonso Mendoza

Puebla, Popular Autonomous University of the State of Puebla (UPAEP), Mexico
Title : Energy density of foods and diets in Mexico and their monetary cost by socioeconomic strata: analyses of ENSANUT data 2012


Background: In January 2014, Mexico implemented an 8% tax on non-essential foods with energy density ?275 kcal/100 g, with a view to prevent obesity. This study explored energy density of foods and diets in Mexico and their monetary cost across population subgroups.

Methods: Dietary intakes for 3057 adults (ages ?19 years) were obtained from the nationally representative Encuesta Nacional de Salud y Nutrition (ENSANUT 2012). Energy density (kcal/g) was calculated for foods, food groups and total diets. The mean national retail prices for 153 foods were obtained from the National Institute for Geography and Statistics (INEGI). The monetary cost of total diets (MXN/day) was estimated by attaching food prices to dietary intakes from the ENSANUT food frequency questionnaire. A series of descriptive analyses and regression models examined associations among dietary energy density and diet cost by age, gender, rural or urban residence and socioeconomic status (SES).

Results: Energy-dense grains, fats and sweets cost less per calorie than did milk and dairy, meat, vegetables and fruit. Lower cost diets derived more calories from tortillas, tamales, beans and sugar, whereas higher cost diets contained more non-essential energy-dense processed foods and more sugar sweetened beverages, and fruits and vegetables. At each quintile of energy intake, higher dietary energy density was associated with lower energy-adjusted diet costs. Traditional energy-dense tortillas and tamales, also characterized by lower cost, were consumed more by the rural poor. Urban dwellers had more 'western-style' diets.

Conclusions: Food patterns in Mexico appear to be driven by monetary cost and SES.

Keywords: DIET; EPIDEMIOLOGY; Economic evaluation; Health inequalities; NUTRITION.


Alfonso Mendoza is the Director of the UPAEP Research Center in Economics (CIIE), Puebla, Mexico, which addresses economic and social disparities of development in Mexico. He holds a Ph.D. in Economics from the University of York, UK, where he later worked as a post-doctoral teaching fellow. Dr. Mendoza has been a visiting researcher in the Center for Public Health Nutrition at the School of Public Health in the University of Washington, USA.

The National Council for Science and Research (CONACYT) in Mexico has granted him the distinction of National Researcher Level 2 for his academic contribution applied health economics. He has produced research on nutrition economics, centered on the role of costs and prices of food as well as food insecurity and basic food baskets. The current project centers on the concept of positive deviants, individuals that show highest levels of food quality intakes despite socioeconomic constraints. He is also researching the time series patterns of food prices and costs following tax interventions.

He is the inventor of the Nutritional Purchasing Power Parity Index, which allows consumers to identify and rank the cities facing the lowest food costs to carry on a healthy lifestyle. He is currently developing nutrient profiling of foods, affordability indices and geographic distributions of diets and their quality. In 2018, Dr. Mendoza was awarded the 1st place in the National Research Prize on Health and Nutrition for his research on Energy density of foods and diets in Mexico and their monetary cost.