Linkage of agricultural production, dietary intake and obesity: the case of Mexico
Rebecca Kanter, Alan Dangour, Ricardo Uauy
There is a worldwide obesity pandemic, and obesity-related chronic diseases are increasing, particularly in low- and middle-income (LMIC) countries.
A diet high in processed foods and low in fruits and vegetables, which often displace a healthy traditional diet, is associated with obesity.
However, in many LMIC agricultural production plays a prominent role in the national economy as well as individual livelihoods, through subsistence and small-scale agriculture.
Taken together, what role does agricultural production currently play in shaping the diet and the resulting nutritional status in LMIC?
In many LMIC, what constitutes the “traditional diet” or the picturesque agrarian lifestyle has become blurred. Studies suggest that agricultural production affects diet through food availability, which in turn suggests that agricultural production itself may be directly related to diet. Yet, it is not clear at what geographic level agricultural production affects food availability; or how current agricultural production may influence diet and health.
The central hypotheses of this research project that will be conducted using national survey data from Mexico are: 1) that agricultural productivity is associated with both diet and obesity; 2) that the magnitude of these associations will be greater with each geographical unit of analysis. The proposed study is innovative because it directly assesses the inextricable linkages between agricultural production, food systems, and obesity; and will help inform public health policies and programs in LMICs with a strong agricultural sector and rising obesity.