1st Edition

School Food Politics in Mexico The Corporatization of Obesity and Healthy Eating Policies

By José Tenorio Copyright 2024
    188 Pages 10 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    Intertwining policy analysis and ethnography, José Tenorio examines how, and why now, the promotion of healthy lifestyles has been positioned as an ideal ‘solution’ to obesity and how this shapes the preparation, sale and consumption of food in schools in Mexico.

    This book situates obesity as a structural problem enabled by market-driven policy change, problematizing the focus on individual behavior change which underpins current obesity policy. It argues that the idea of healthy lifestyles draws attention away from the economic and political roots of obesity, shifting blame onto an ‘uneducated’ population. Deploying Foucault’s concept of dispositif, Tenorio argues that healthy lifestyles functions as an ensemble of mechanisms to deploy representations of reality, spaces, institutions and subjectivities aligned with market principles, constructing individuals both as culprits for what they eat and the prime locus of policy intervention to change diets. He demonstrates how this ensemble enmeshes within the local cultural and economic conditions surrounding the provisioning of food in Mexican schools, and how it is contested in the practices around cooking.

    Expanding the conversation on the politics of food in schools, obesity policy and dominant perspectives on the relation between food and health, this book is a must-read for scholars of food and nutrition, public health and education, as well as those with an interest in development studies and policy enactment and outcomes.

    1. Governing Through Healthy Lifestyles  2. Food, Public Health and Education in the Making of Mexico  3. The Cultural Politics of Language in Obesity Policy  4. Corporatizing Healthy Eating  5. Beyond Policy: Everyday Cooking in Schools  6. Healthy Lifestyles, Bottled Water and Corporate Profits  7. Food Through Schools: What Futures?


    José Tenorio is an Associate Lecturer at the School of Human Movement and Nutrition Sciences, University of Queensland in Australia. His research and teaching interests lie at the intersection of food, health and education. He is a co-editor of the Routledge Handbook of Critical Obesity Studies.

    From first-hand observations and deep research, José Tenorio makes it clear that school food in Mexico is about much more than feeding hungry kids; it’s about how food corporations have taken advantage of social inequalities to replace native food traditions with less healthful but profitable products. School food politics, indeed!

    Marion Nestle, New York University, author of Food Politics: How the Food Industry Influences Nutrition and Health.


    José Tenorio reveals how the discourse of ‘healthy lifestyles’ works to blame individuals for their ‘unhealthy’ food choices and to expand corporate market interest in the name of ‘health’. This is a must-read for scholars in food and nutrition, as well as development studies, interested in understanding how larger structural forces interact with those at play at the micro-sociological and cultural levels.

    Gerardo Otero, Simon Fraser University. Author of The Neoliberal Diet: Healthy Profits, Unhealthy People.


    In School Food Politics in Mexico, José Tenorio carefully examines how the discourses of nutrition, ‘healthy foods’ and ‘healthy lifestyles’ have worked to question the healthfulness of more traditional and hand-made foods prepared by school canteen workers in otherwise cash-strapped schools, and to legitimize the interests of food manufacturing corporations.

    Gyorgy Scrinis, University of Melbourne. Author of Nutritionism: The science and politics of dietary advice.