Journal of Public Health Policy

, Volume 36, Issue 4, pp 426–439 | Cite as

A process to establish nutritional guidelines to address obesity: Lessons from Mexico

  • Sofia CharvelEmail author
  • Fernanda Cobo
  • Mauricio Hernández-Ávila
Original Article


In 2010, the Mexican government implemented a multi-sector agreement to prevent obesity. In response, the Ministries of Health and Education launched a national school-based policy to increase physical activity, improve nutrition literacy, and regulate school food offerings through nutritional guidelines. We studied the Guidelines’ negotiation and regulatory review process, including government collaboration and industry response. Within the government, conflicting positions were evident: the Ministries of Health and Education supported the Guidelines as an effective obesity-prevention strategy, while the Ministries of Economics and Agriculture viewed them as potentially damaging to the economy and job generation. The food and beverage industries opposed and delayed the process, arguing that regulation was costly, with negative impacts on jobs and revenues. The proposed Guidelines suffered revisions that lowered standards initially put forward. We documented the need to improve cross-agency cooperation to achieve effective policymaking. The ‘siloed’ government working style presented a barrier to efforts to resist industry’s influence and strong lobbying. Our results are relevant to public health policymakers working in childhood obesity prevention.


obesity regulation rulemaking schoolchildren competitive food and beverage 



We thank Charlotte Gerczak for her editorial assistance. Fernanda Cobo received support from an ARH- GE-F-04 scholarship from the Mexican National Research System.


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Copyright information

© Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Ltd 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Sofia Charvel
    • 1
    Email author
  • Fernanda Cobo
    • 1
  • Mauricio Hernández-Ávila
    • 2
  1. 1.Mexico Autonomous Institute of Technology (ITAM)México, D.F.México
  2. 2.National Institute of Public Health (INSP)CuernavacaMexico

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