Access to Healthy Wheat and Maize Processed Foods in Mexico City: Comparisons across Socioeconomic Areas and Store Types
The contributions of processed foods to the overweight and obesity problem in Latin America are well known. Engagement with the private and public sectors on possible solutions requires deeper insights into where and how these products are sold and the related implications for diet quality. This article characterizes the diversity of wheat and maize processed foods (WMPFs) available to consumers in Mexico City. Data were gathered across nine product categories at different points of sale (supermarkets, small grocery stores, convenience stores) in high and low socioeconomic (SE) areas. We assessed WMPFs based on Nutri-Score profile, price, and health and nutrition claims. Roughly 17.4% of the WMPFs were considered healthy, of which 62.2% were pastas and breads. Availability of healthy WMPFs was scarce in most stores, particularly in convenience stores Compared to supermarkets in the low SE area, those in the high SE area exhibited greater variety in access to healthy WMPFs across all product categories. In the low SE area, healthy WMPFs were priced 17–81% lower than unhealthy WMPFs across product categories. The extensive variety of unhealthy WMPFs, the limited stock of healthy WMPFs in most retail outlets, and the confusing health and nutrition claims on packaging make it difficult for urban consumers to find and choose healthy WMPFs.