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Arch Latinoam Nutr. 1988 Sep;38(3):750-65.

[Changes in the patterns of food consumption in Latin America].

[Article in Spanish]


Food consumption patterns have suffered important although not generalized changes in recent years. A series of factors favor these changes, such as variations in family income, rural-urban migration, increase of tertiary activities related to foods, and exposure to commercial propaganda. All of these factors, when compared among them, do not have the same impact or validity. Thus, while the first two induce changes in the food pattern, the last two guide the consumer to certain food products. Modernization of the food pattern in Latin America and the Caribbean has been inspired by the USA food pattern of the previous decade, which from the nutritional and economic points of view, does not prove to be desirable. The average USA diet is rich in both saturated and mono- and polyunsaturated fats, as well as in refined sugar and all types of additives. It is poor in carbohydrates, particular in those of the complex type; most of its protein is of animal origin. It may also be rich in salt and poor in fiber, as it is made up by well-diversified industrialized foods in their presentation, manufactured and marketed by a highly industrialized production-distribution capitalized structure. The adopted model is not in correspondence with out countries' natural resources; it produces a displacement of the consumption patterns based on autochthonous and/or traditional components, and induces an increase in food imports. Since Latin American countries are of poor economic resources, and the model renders expensive products, these are absorbed by the socioeconomic group able to pay for them and/or--intermittently--as a high-cost product by calorie delivered, by the poor groups who are most in need, a situation which would imply serious damage on the quality and quantity of their diet. Changes in food habits and in food consumption patterns are related to a certain socio-demographic process which cannot be stopped. Consequently, this process should be carefully analyzed and understood in order to contribute to channel it in the best possible manner and to protect the food and nutritional situation of the consumer. The expert in nutrition should therefore play an important role in those tasks of public benefit, fundamentally in the areas of regulation and normalization of the quality of new foods, as well as in the diffusion of information and education, at all levels, of the consumer.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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