In order to understand why rates of overweight and obesity are so high in the Ecuadorian province of Galapagos, this study analyzes changes in household food expenditures and perceptions and practices related to food consumption patterns. Galapagos is understood as an unusual but not unique case because conditions there graphically illustrate trends observed in communities and countries worldwide. A mixed methods approach was employed: a quantitative component was based on expenditures for foods classified according to the NOVA system, and a qualitative component utilized focus group discussions, key informant interviews, and structured observations.
Galapagos residents increased consumption of processed and ultra-processed foods and decreased consumption of unprocessed and minimally processed foods. Perceived barriers to healthy diets include price, availability, and quality of fresh produce, as well as easy access to industrialized processed and ultra-processed foods.
Changes in consumption patterns represent both local conditions and global trends; in that sense, the factors that affect Galapagos residents are not unique. Hence, these findings help elucidate processes observed in communities around the world.