In the land of alfajores, asado and empanadas, it’s hard to imagine anyone could have cause to complain about the quality of food in Argentina, right? But when you’re a celiac/lactose intolerant like I am, finding food that doesn’t make you ill can be a challenge. And in case I needed more justification on this issue, according to nutritionist Mónica Katz, this preoccupation with all things doughy, fried and covered in cheese or cream is pretty detrimental to the overall health of the Argentine population.
Katz told Infobae that while Argentines have the “raw resources” for a healthy diet, many follow a very unvaried eating pattern characterized by high carbohydrate and fat intake. This indicates that Argentines are not getting proper vitamins and nutrients. According to Katz, Argentines eat more meat than the recommended allowance (no surprises there), less fruit and vegetables, a higher amount of carbs (all those empanadas) and less dairy products. (But dulce de leche counts, right?)
Katz broke down the different categories of food and how Argentina stacks up in comparison with what people should be consuming daily. The results are not so great:
- While the WHO suggests an intake of at least 400 grams of fruits and vegetables every day, only 17 percent of Argentines consume that amount of fruits and only 25 percent consume that amount of vegetables.
- 87 percent of Argentines over the age of 12 consume less than the recommended amount of dairy daily, and 72 percent under the age of 12.
- Argentines consume more meat than what’s recommended and generally consume the fattier cuts. Chicken is also popular, while pork and fish are not.
- Argentines consume 75 percent more than the recommended amount of saturated fats, and way less legumes and whole wheat than the recommended amount. (300 grams a year).
According to data culled by the World Health Organization (WHO), worldwide obesity and overweight rates for 2014 placed Argentina, Uruguay and Chile at the top of the region, while Brazil, Paraguay, Bolivia and Ecuador fared the best.
In a previous report by Clarín, the issue of obesity is becoming more and more prominent in Argentina. The National Survey of Risk Factors (ENFR) says that six out of 10 people in the country are overweight and this number coincides with the whopping 55 percent of Argentines who admitted that they don’t do enough physical exercise.
This growing concern with obesity and other diet-related health concerns has prompted the government to release the Dietary Guidelines for the population of Argentina (GAPA), a list of rules that Argentines should abide by in order to integrate more variety and healthy food into their diets. The guidelines are split into three categories, one for the national level to follow, for individuals to follow, and for the food industry to follow.