Energy contribution of NOVA food groups and sociodemographic determinants of ultra-processed food consumption in the Mexican population

Public Health Nutr. 2018 Jan;21(1):87-93. doi: 10.1017/S1368980017002129. Epub 2017 Sep 22.


Objective: To identify the energy contributions of NOVA food groups in the Mexican diet and the associations between individual sociodemographic characteristics and the energy contribution of ultra-processed foods (UPF).

Design: We classified foods and beverages reported in a 24 h recall according to the NOVA food framework into: (i) unprocessed or minimally processed foods; (ii) processed culinary ingredients; (iii) processed foods; and (iv) UPF. We estimated the energy contribution of each food group and ran a multiple linear regression to identify the associations between sociodemographic characteristics and UPF energy contribution.

Setting: Mexican National Health and Nutrition Survey 2012.

Subjects: Individuals ≥1 years old (n 10 087).

Results: Unprocessed or minimally processed foods had the highest dietary energy contribution (54·0 % of energy), followed by UPF (29·8 %), processed culinary ingredients (10·2 %) and processed foods (6·0 %). The energy contribution of UPF was higher in: pre-school-aged children v. other age groups (3·8 to 12·5 percentage points difference (pp)); urban areas v. rural (5·6 pp); the Central and North regions v. the South (2·7 and 8·4 pp, respectively); medium and high socio-economic status v. low (4·5 pp, in both); and with higher head of household educational level v. without education (3·4 to 7·8 pp).

Conclusions: In 2012, about 30 % of energy in the Mexican diet came from UPF. Our results showed that younger ages, urbanization, living in the North region, high socio-economic status and high head of household educational level are sociodemographic factors related to higher consumption of UPF in Mexico.

Keywords: Energy contribution; Mexico; NOVA; Sociodemographic characteristics; Ultra-processed foods.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Diet
  • Family Characteristics
  • Fast Foods*
  • Female
  • Food Handling
  • Health Behavior
  • Health Surveys
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Male
  • Mexico
  • Nutrition Surveys
  • Residence Characteristics
  • Rural Population
  • Socioeconomic Factors*
  • Urban Population
  • Young Adult