In Mexico, 58% of the calories we consume come from packaged foods and drinks, one of them is box cereals that are eaten mainly for breakfast. Among the Mexican child population, it is estimated that 7% of children consume it daily and according to the National Health and Nutrition Survey, almost half of children under 2 years of age consumed it the day before this survey was applied.
A recently published study conducted by researchers from the National Institute of Public Health of Mexico (INSP) and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine found that of 371 box cereals analyzed, 69% are categorized as "less healthy".
Compared to healthier cereals, these products are higher in calories, added sugars, and sodium. They contain almost twice the sugar (30.6 grams per 100 grams on average versus 16.6 grams) and three times the sodium (473 milligrams in 100 grams on average versus 148 milligrams).
These products are heavily advertised In different media, including television, street advertisements and points of sale, they generally use elements that are attractive to children, such as brand characters, bright colors, games and gifts.
The packaging also includes misleading nutritional legends or claims making parents believe that it is a healthy product due to the fact that it contains added vitamins and minerals, but they do not warn about the high sugar and sodium content
- Of 371 boxed cereals, 69% are unhealthy, high in sugar and sodium, and carry misleading nutritional legends that mislead the consumer.
- These products are very high in sugar and sodium, so the industry must reduce their content as a public health measure.
- Labeling is required that allows consumers to identify the less healthy box cereals.
In a country like Mexico where the population consumes more sugar and more sodium than is recommended, it is necessary to take into account the scientific evidence and international recommendations:
- Implement a frontal nutritional labeling that allows the entire population to identify food products high in added sugars (free), saturated fats, sodium and calories, for being those associated with damage to health.
- Improve advertising regulation, restricting the use of characters in products high in added sugars (free), saturated fat, sodium and calories.
- Monitor the use of nutrition claims or captions, particularly in food products high in added (free) sugars, saturated fat, sodium, and calories.