Comparative analysis of dietary guidelines in the Spanish-Speaking Caribbean

Public Health Nutr. 2016 Mar;19(4):607-15. doi: 10.1017/S1368980015002153. Epub 2015 Jul 10.


Objective: Dietary guidelines are important education and policy tools to address local nutrition concerns. The current paper presents a comparative analysis of nutrition messages from three Spanish-speaking Caribbean countries (Cuba, Puerto Rico and Dominican Republic) to explore how these dietary guidelines address common public health nutrition concerns, contextualized in different changing food environments and food culture similarities.

Design: Qualitative, comparative analysis of current dietary guideline documents and key recommendations.

Results: Key recommendations were categorized into sixteen themes (two diet-based, ten food-based and four 'other'). Only the Cuban dietary guidelines included diet-based key recommendations. Of the ten food-based key recommendations, only four themes overlapped across the three dietary guidelines (the encouragement of fruits and vegetables, addressing protein sources and fat). Other overlaps were found between dietary guideline pairs, except between Cuba and Puerto Rico. Further analysis revealed differences in levels of specificity and acknowledgement of local dietary patterns and issues, as well as the need to revise the guidelines to account for current scientific advances.

Conclusions: The present study underscored the importance of context in the framing of dietary advice and the influence of national socio-economic and political situations on nutrition policy and education efforts. The results contribute to inform efforts to improve nutrition communication in the region and among migrant communities.

Keywords: Caribbean; Cuba; Dietary guidelines; Dominican Republic; Nutrition education; Nutrition transitions; Puerto Rico.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Cross-Cultural Comparison
  • Cuba
  • Diet / ethnology*
  • Dominican Republic
  • Ethnicity*
  • Feeding Behavior / ethnology*
  • Health Education
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Nutrition Policy*
  • Puerto Rico
  • Qualitative Research
  • Socioeconomic Factors