Skip to main content
Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2022

Sustainability of Diets in Mexico: Diet Quality, Environmental Footprint, Diet Cost, and Sociodemographic Factors

Curi-Quinto, Katherine; Unar-Munguia, Mishel; Rodriguez-Ramirez, Sonia; Rivera, Juan A.; Fanzo, Jessica; Willett, Walter; Roos, Elin


BackgroundLittle is known about the current intake of sustainable diets globally and specifically in middle-income countries, considering nutritional, environmental and economic factors. ObjectiveTo assess and characterize the sustainability of Mexican diets and their association with sociodemographic factors. DesignDietary data of 2,438 adults within the National Health and Nutrition Survey 2012 by integrating diet quality measured by the Healthy Eating Index (HEI-2015), diet cost, and four environmental indicators were analyzed: land use (LU), biodiversity loss (BDL), carbon footprint (CFP), and blue water footprint (BWFP). We defined healthier more sustainable diets (MSD) as those with HEI-2015 above the overall median, and diet cost and environmental indicators below the median. Logistic regression was used to evaluate the association of sociodemographic factors with MSD. ResultsMSD were consumed by 10.2% of adults (4% of urban and 22% of rural), who had lower intake of animal-source foods, unhealthy foods (refined grains, added sugar and fats, mixed processed dishes and sweetened beverages), fruits, and vegetables, and higher intake of whole grains than non-MSD subjects. Characteristics of MSD vs. non-MSD (urban; rural) were: HEI-2015 (62.6 vs. 51.9; 66.8 vs. 57.6), diet-cost (1.9 vs. 2.8; 1.9 vs. 2.5 USD), LU (3.3 vs. 6.6; 3.2 vs. 5.9 m(2)), BDL (105 vs. 780; 87 vs. 586 species x 10(-10)), BWFP (244 vs. 403; 244 vs. 391 L), and CFP (1.6 vs. 4.4; 1.6 vs. 3.7 kg CO(2)eq). Adults from rural vs. urban (OR 2.7; 95% CI: 1.7, 4.1), or from the South (OR 2.1; 95% CI: 1.1, 3.9), Center (OR 2.3; 95% CI: 1.3, 4.4) vs. the North were more likely to consume MSD, while adults with high vs. low socioeconomic status were less likely (OR 0.17; 95% CI: 0.09, 0.3). ConclusionsThe MSD is a realistic diet pattern mainly found in disadvantaged populations, but diet quality is still sub-optimal. Increased consumption of legumes, fruits, and vegetables, and a reduction in unhealthy foods, is required to improve nutritional quality of diets while ensuring their environmental sustainability.


sustainable diet; Mexico; diet cost; environmental footprint; carbon footprint; land use; water footprint

Published in

Frontiers in Nutrition
2022, volume: 9, article number: 855793

Authors' information

Curi-Quinto, Katherine
Instituto Nacional de Salud Publica
Unar-Munguia, Mishel
Instituto Nacional de Salud Publica
Rodriguez-Ramirez, Sonia
Instituto Nacional de Salud Publica
Rivera, Juan A.
Instituto Nacional de Salud Publica
Fanzo, Jessica
Johns Hopkins University
Willett, Walter
Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Energy and Technology

Sustainable Development Goals

SDG2 Zero hunger
SDG17 Strengthen the means of implementation and revitalize the global partnership for sustainable development

UKÄ Subject classification

Nutrition and Dietetics
Social Sciences Interdisciplinary
Environmental Sciences

Publication Identifiers


URI (permanent link to this page)