Mexico occupies the first places worldwide in overweight and obesity according to data from the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO). To reduce this health problem, UNAM suggests implementing the cornfield diet.

The diet of the milpa has as its nutritional center products such as: corn, beans, chili and squash. | Foto: Getty Images.

What is the cornfield diet?

The cornfield diet, a food model of Mesoamerican origin that is based on the culture and regional characteristics of Mexican food.

It is “the combination of a legume and a cereal, for example beans and tortilla; by putting them together we are guaranteeing the contribution of a protein of high biological value ”, indicated the specialist Xóchitl Ponce Martínez, teacher in Health Sciences in the area of ​​Epidemiology at the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM).

The cornfield diet It has as a cultural nutritional center the products of the milpa, that is, corn, beans, chili and squash, according to the Ministry of Health (SSA), as well as the other foods of Mesoamerican origin that are consumed in Mexico, along with those adopted for the traditional Mexican cuisine of external origin, combined in a healthy way.

Benefits of the cornfield diet

  • Good protein balance
  • Source of soluble and insoluble fiber, which inhibits the absorption of cholesterol, reducing the risk of cardiovascular diseases.
  • Favors the acid-alkaline balance, helping to have more adequate values ​​of the acidic renal potential.
  • Less fat intake.
  • Favors the state of antioxidation or oxidative balance.
  • Effect antitoxic, which favors the elimination of toxins

In addition, the UNAM expert argued that this diet has the benefit of being based on quality food that is easily accessible to the populations, since they can harvest or obtain them in their region.

Factors that influence the development of overweight and obesity

Ponce Martínez emphasized that geographical location becomes an essential factor in knowing the accessibility of food for a person or a community.

The UNAM researcher indicated that there are cases in which individuals may not obtain the necessary nutrients when carrying out some type of diet, because the portions or foods lack adequate balance. Which can be more harmful in children and adolescents, because they are the ones who need the most nutrients during growth.

In the case of Mexico, the expert indicated that the Diagnostic Study of the Right to Nutritional and Quality Food 2018, of the National Council for the Evaluation of Social Development Policy (Coneval) indicates that in the country food with low or no nutritional quality such as cereals and sugary drinks, sweet and salty snacks, as well as fast food, which has a high content of fat, salt and sugar.

Given this, the specialist insisted that the lack of access to quality food is related to obesity, which develops because a person eats more than he spends on energy. However, he stressed that quality is the most important thing, since the food eaten has high energy density and does not provide the necessary nutrients.

  • Most consumed foods

Ponce Martínez assured that the products most consumed by both adults and children in Mexico are:

  • Sweetened beverages
  • Snack
  • Sweet
  • Desserts

While the least ingested are:

The academic emphasized that there is a relationship between micronutrients and obesity since the lack of vitamins A, D, B, as well as minerals such as zinc, iron and calcium increase adipose tissue and inflammatory activity.

How to reduce overweight and obesity?

To put a stop to this epidemic of the obesity, the highest house of studies in Mexico, assured that “it is necessary to create tools that allow evaluating the quality of food according to the population and the context in which it operates; as well as maintaining 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 fruits, vegetables, legumes, whole grain cereals and fibers in the diet that do represent a nutritional contribution.

Overweight and obesity, a public health problem

Data from the World Health Organization (WHO), 13% of the adult population in the world is overweight or obese, while in Latin America, the World Bank report, presented in 2020, registered that, of every 10 people over 20 years of age, 6 are obese.

For its part, National Health and Nutrition Survey (Ensanut) indicated that In Mexico, the age group between 30 and 59 years is the one with the highest levels of obesity: 35% in men and 46% in women.

Unfortunately, said the UNAM academic, this problem is not only for adults, as the United Nations Children’s Fund (Unicef) stressed that, in Mexico “1 in 20 girls and boys under 5 years old and 1 in 3 between 6 and 19 years old is overweight or obese”, placing the country among one of the first in the world.


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