Open Access Secular trends in food patterns of Guatemalan consumers: New foods for old

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Background. Food patterns of population groups change and adapt under the influence of several factors, including those related to globalization, urbanization, and the nutrition transition.

Objective. To document changes in food consumption and dietary patterns of Guatemalans, based on food surveys from the middle of the 20th century and the beginning of the 21st century.

Methods. We accessed archival dietary data from surveys conducted in nine rural or semirural traditional Guatemalan communities in the 1950s and from two studies of nonindigenous Guatemalans and Guatemalans of Mayan descent conducted after 1998. The total number and types of food items and the nutrient intakes from the two eras were compared.

Results. We identified 210 distinct food items across time, including 108 items consumed in traditional indigenous and nonindigenous Guatemalan communities (“old” foods), of which 72% were still consumed by nonindigenous Guatemalans and 76% were still consumed by Mayan Guatemalans. Processed foods represented only 11% of the items consumed in traditional Guatemalan communities but 30% of those consumed by nonindigenous Guatemalans and 25% of those consumed by Mayan Guatemalans. The proportions of carbohydrates, fats, and proteins as percentages of total energy were 79:9:12 among traditional Guatemalan communities, 67:20:13 among nonindigenous Guatemalans, and 61:27:12 among Mayan Guatemalans.

Conclusions. Changes in Guatemalan food patterns and in nutrient intakes are marked by increased food variety, at the expense of reduction in the consumption of nutrient-dense foods and increase in the consumption of processed foods. Such changes are consistent with those observed in other societies, where a combination of forces associated with demographic, epidemiologic, and nutritional transitions is occurring within the dynamics of urbanization and globalization phenomena that characterize contemporary times.


Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: December 1, 2008

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  • Established in 1978, the Food and Nutrition Bulletin (FNB) is a peer-reviewed journal published quarterly by the Nevin Scrimshaw International Nutrition Foundation.

    The focus of the journal is to highlight original scientific articles on nutrition research, policy analyses, and state-of-the-art summaries relating to multidisciplinary efforts to alleviate the problems of hunger and malnutrition in the developing world.

    Food and Nutrition Bulletin's 2012 Impact Factor: 2.106
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