The Effect of Mexican Household Food Security Status and Income Distribution on Food Access

By Mireya Vilar-Compte, Ana Bernal-Stuart, Sebastián Sandoval-Olascoaga and Ana Bertha Pérez-Lizaur.

Published by Food Studies: An Interdisciplinary Journal

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Published online: July 10, 2014 $US5.00

We studied how income distribution and food security status are related to the quality and quantity of foods consumed by Mexican households. Methods: First, we analyzed current expenditure on eleven food groups across food security levels stratified by income quintiles and food security status, based on 2010 National Income and Expenditure Surveys. Second, we designed and budgeted two 2,000-calorie-per-day diets which cover the daily nutritional requirements of the Mexican population to observe, based on the current income data from the surveys, which households could purchase such diets. Results: Those households that spent the most on food are also those that invest the smallest percentage of their income on food. Monthly per capita expenditure was greater on most food groups in food secure (FS) households and decreased as food insecurity worsened. Statistical analyses of current expenditure on food groups revealed statistically significant differences across income quintiles and food security levels (p<0.05). The standard diet’s weekly cost was US$44.89 per person. Households with an average weekly income per capita (US$71.17) and those in the fourth (US$65.25) and fifth (US$181.27) quintiles could afford it, but those in the first (US$14.0), second (US$27.59), and third (US$42.75) quintiles could not. We designed a special diet for low-income groups, with a weekly cost of US$17.79 per person, which could not be afforded by households in the first quintile, even when all their income went to food. Discussion: Based on a descriptive analysis we found that income barriers and food insecurity are related to limited access to nutritious foods and diets among Mexican households.

Keywords: Food Security, Poverty, Barriers Food Access, Barriers Nutritious Diets

Food Studies: An Interdisciplinary Journal, Volume 3, Issue 2, July 2014, pp.31-40. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Published online: July 10, 2014 (Article: Electronic (PDF File; 418.138KB)).

Dr. Mireya Vilar-Compte

Associate Professor, Health Department, Universidad Iberoamericana, Mexico City, DF, Mexico

Mireya Vilar-Compte, PhD (principal investigator at UIA) is an associate professor in the Health Department at the Universidad Iberoamericana. Dr. Vilar-Compte’s research agenda includes financial protection in health among vulnerable groups (i.e. elderly and immigrants), unintended effects of social protection programs, aging and nutrition, and health effects and determinants of food insecurity. Her most recent research assesses the unintended consequences of the financial crisis on food security, and its relationship to negative health outcomes (i.e. diabetes and obesity). This is collaborative research with UCLA in the USA, financed by UC-Mexus. She has recently submitted two papers evaluating the impact of a demogrant on the food security status of elderly. Professor Vilar-Compte holds a PhD (2010) and an MPhil (2006) in public administration from New York University, as well as an MPP (1998) from the University of York. As part of her professional experience, she worked for more than two years as a health specialist at the World Bank.

Ana Bernal-Stuart

Research Assistant, Health Department, Universidad Iberoamericana, Mexico City, DF, Mexico

Ana Bernal-Stuart holds a BA in political science from the Instituto Tecnologico Autonomo de Mexico in Mexico City. She worked in the Ministry of Health for two years, where she participated in the creation of health policy regarding childhood overweight, obesity, and tobacco control. Ana Bernal-Stuart currently works as a research assistant in Universidad Iberoamericana, where she focuses on a collaborative study with UCLA to study the effects of the 2008 economic crisis on food security and on diabetes risk among Mexicans. She also works on a project to analyze the relationship between food insecurity and adverse health outcomes among the elderly in Mexico. Ana Bernal-Stuart’s interests in public heath include the social and behavioral determinants of health, breastfeeding promotion, and overweight and obesity control.

Sebastián Sandoval-Olascoaga

Research Assistant, Health Department, Universidad Iberoamericana, Mexico City, DF, Mexico

Sebastián Sandoval-Olascoaga holds a BA in economics from the Centro de Investigación y Docencia Economicas (CIDE) in Mexico City. He currently works in the Health Department of Universidad Iberoamericana, where he focuses on a collaborative study with UCLA to study the effects of the 2008 economic crisis on adverse health outcomes on the Mexican population. Sebastián Sandoval-Olascoaga has also been a research assistant in the CIDE, where he analyzed the impacts of economic recessions on education attendance, and the effect that Mexican scholarships have on education attendance, dropout rates, and other indicators. Furthermore, Mr. Sandoval-Olascoaga was a research fellow in the Colegio de Mexico, where he analyzed the discrimination patterns that exist within the Mexican labor market. Sebastián Saldoval-Olascoaga's independent research interests include poverty reduction strategies, randomized evaluations applied to development topics, and sustainable resources.

Ana Bertha Pérez-Lizaur

Director, Health Department, Universidad Iberoamericana, Mexico City, DF, Mexico

Ana Bertha Pérez Lizaur NC, MSc has a bachelor's degree in nutrition and food science from Universidad Iberoamericana (UIA), Mexico, and a master's degree in health sciences from the Autonomous University of the State of Mexico. She is UIA’s Health Department director. She has coordinated the assessment and accreditation curriculum process required by the American Dietetic Association, achieving accreditation in 2006. Ana Bertha is a certified nutritionist from the Colegio Mexicano de Nutriólogos, and a current member of the Mexican Association of Nutrition, the Latin American Society of Nutrition, and the Academy of Nutrition and Food Science. She was president of the Colegio Mexicano de Nutriólogos between 2005 and 2006 and of the National Council for the Quality of Educational Programs in AC Nutrition from 2006 to 2008. She also promoted the publication of the Food Guidance NOM 043 (law). Among her most important publications are the books: Nutriología Médica, Dietas Normales y Terapéuticas, and Sistema Mexicano de Alimentos Equivalentes, published by Editorial Medica Panamericana and Editorial Prensa Médica. Ana Bertha’s article “Environmental and Personal Correlates of Fruit and Vegetable Consumption in Low Income, Urban Mexican Children” was recently published in the Journal of Human Nutrition and Dietetics.