Sunday, May 9, 2010

Eating Chilean Fish

National Shame! CHILEans only eat 7 KILOS of fish a yeaR!  LA Cuarta.  Miércoles 5 de Mayo de 2010.  

 Reader comment:
Yeah, expensive seafood and fish in Santiago;  with 1,500 pesos you get two little fish no bigger than this, they don’t even let the little things grow, for 700 pesos you get five little clams, and for 750 a few mussels, not enough for a poor fish stew.  On the other hand for 1500 pesos you get a DOUBLE GIANT HOTDOG WITH EVERYTHING ON IT, THIS BIG, DRINK INCLUDED. DELICIOUS. HOW WILL YOU FILL YOUR TUMMY????[1] Janis

Sad but true, Chilean fish consumption is less that half the world’s average, down to about 38% of 1995 levels, and fish is more expensive than other meats (see What Chileans Eat: Chilean National Diet).   

Why?  Part of the answer is that Chile is the 8th most important fish exporter in the world, with exports of about $2.5 billion in 2006.[2] In January 2010 Chile exported 126,340 metric tons of fish and fishmeal (22%).[3] If we exclude the fishmeal (used mainly for animal feeds) that’s about 6.5 kg. of exported fish per person; a half kg. less that the average Chilean eats in a year.  And assuming January exports are typical, this year’s exports of around 78 kg. per person will be a little over 10 times domestic consumption.

Photo:  Stall in Santiago’s Mercado Central, Aníbal Pées Labory 

What this means, of course, is that Santiago fish buyers are competing with the 99.8% of the world’s population that isn’t Chilean for Chilean fish.   So prices are high; not at the levels of importers like the US, Japan and Europe, but still high.

But if you like fish, can afford it occasionally (or frequently), there’s a reasonable chance that you’d like to know more about what’s available.  So….

A shoppers guide to Chilean Fish

Merluza (hake, Merluccius spp.)

Merluza is Chile’s most popular fish, and among the least expensive, currently around 2,000 CLP a kg.  ($1.80/lb) for small whole fish.  The flesh is white, soft, and mild tasting.  If you order “fried fish” in Chile, you will usually get merluza. If not fried, Chileans usually serve it baked or poached with a sauce.  It’s a bit fragile and tends to come apart in stews and chowders. The smaller of the two merluza species (M. gayi), commonly called pescada in Chile, is often 300 gm. or so whole, appropriate for a single serving as below, but  they may be over a kg. The other species (M. australis), commonly sold as merluza Española in Chile, is usually larger. Merluza are also available as frozen filets.[4] 

Pescada, boned and seasoned,                               and pan fried.

Reineta, (pomfret or southern rays bream, Brama australis) 

The second most popular Chilean fish, reineta, is likely to be your favorite if you want a mild, white, firm fleshed fish for grilling, broiling or sautéing. They are also among the less expensive fish, at around 2,800 CLP during most of the 2009-10 summer and now at 3,600 in the local feria (street market).. They commonly weigh 1 to 2.5 kg, and a two kg. fish yields four serving-sized filets.  Frozen filets usually cost around 5,000 – 5,500 CLP/kg ($4.50-5.00/lb).

If you like fish on the grill, reineta are ideal.  Grill the whole fish, cleaned but not scaled, and scored through the skin on three or four places on each side, over a medium charcoal fire, for around 10 minutes per inch of thickness (that’s for an internal temp 140° F).  The scales keep the fish from sticking to the grill and the skin can easily be peeled off for serving.  For instructions see How to Cook a Whole Fish.

Jurel (Jack Mackerel, Trachurus symmetricus)

Jurel, is the third most popular Chilean fish, and one of the least expensive.  Like most mackerel, they have oily, strongly flavored flesh and are not for those who only like “fish that don’t taste like fish.” They are usually baked with a savory sauce or broiled. A citrus based marinade can help tone down the flavor. Jurel are among Chile’s most important fish for export as fish meal, and are also available canned; an inexpensive substitute for tuna. Here are some recipes in English.

Salmón (Atlantic salmon, Salmo salar)

Chilean farmed salmon are delicious, intrinsically good for you, and economically important for Chile, but they are contaminated with PCBs, dioxin and other hazardous chemicals, and salmon farms are a serious threat to Chile’s environment.  (A disease, infectious salmon anemia (ISA), has dramatically reduced production in recent years, though it is no threat to humans.) There is no clear answer as to whether you should eat farmed salmon, and if so, how often (see Eating/Not-eating Chilean Salmon). 

Salmon is a medium priced fish in central Chile; whole fish presently cost 4 to 5,000 CLP a kg. in ferias, and more in supermarkets.  Frozen salmon filets are occasionally as low as 4,400-5,000 CLP/kg. ($4.00-4.50 lb.) in supermarkets.

Trucha arcoíris (rainbow trout, Oncorhynchus mykiss) is farmed in the same manner as salmon and has the same advantages and disadvantages, thought it is not subject to ISA. 

Congrio (conger, Genypterus sp.)

The congrio is the most Chilean of fish, subject of a famous poem by Pablo Neruda, Oda al caldillo de congrio (Ode to Congrio Chowder), translated below by Margaret Sayers Peden.  It begins:

In the storm-tossed
lives the rosy conger,
giant eel
of snowy flesh.
And in Chilean
along the coast,
was born the chowder,
thick and succulent,
a boon to man.

Congrio dorado (G. blacodes)
Congrio are delicious fish, mild flavored with firm white meat, similar to monk fish. It is excellent in stews and soups, baked, or fried.  It can be filleted, but is frequently cut into thick steaks. It is medium priced, presently 2,500(congrio negro) to 4,000 CLP/kg. (colorado) and up.

caldillo de congrio photo cariberry, recipe in English

Corvina (drum, Cilus gilberti)
Corvina is a white fleshed, medium flavored fish similar to the redfish or channel Bass of the Gulf of Mexico.  Although it can weigh up to 15 kg., fish of 2 to 3 kg. are common, with both smaller and larger occasionally available. It is priced similar to salmon and congrio.  Corvina is a favorite fish for ceveche, or baked or grilled al la plancha (on a metal plate) and served with a sauce, often a salsa marinera with clams, mussels, shrimp, etc.  It is sometimes translated “Chilean sea bass” on menus, but it is not the threatened Patagonian toothfish.

Baked stuffed corvina

Robalo (Patagonial blennie, Faulkland Mulet, Eleginops maclovinus)

Most abundant in  far southern waters where it is fished on an industrial scale, it is locally available in fillets and as whole fish. It is a white fleshed, mild fish.  Fry or grill a la plancha.

Blalnquillo, cabrilla común (Tilefish, Ocean whitefish, Prolatilus jugularis)

Mild white fish, filets are in the supermarkets at around 4,000 CLP kg.

Sierra (Snoek, Thyrsites atun)

A long thin inexpensive fish of up to a meter, sierra is a popular fish in South Africa, where they are called Snoek.  The flesh is white, with darker strips along the mid lines, and is similar to albacore.  There are a lot of large easily removed bones. Sierra are usually served grilled or stuffed with tomatoes, cheese and sausages for the Chiloe dish cancato, below.

 Tollo (Speckled smooth hound, Mustelus mento)

Tollo is a small inoffensive near shore-shark, common (like beachgoers) in the surf on sandy beaches. The flesh is white, mild, boneless, and tasty, though some suggest soaking in milk before cooking.  An ideal fish to serve to children who can learn to like fish with out fear of bones, it makes good “fish fingers.”  It is moderately priced, and usually sold skinned and headless in ferias.

Albacora (swordfish, Xiphias gladius)

Not the light-meat tuna, albacore, as English speakers expect, but swordfish, albacora is an expensive fish, usually sold in steaks.  It is a popular fish with a “meaty” texture when grilled. 

Because it is at the top of the food chain, it accumulates heavy metals and the USFDA recommends that swordfish not be eaten because of high concentrations of mercury.  But if you do eat it, Chilean swordfish, which is harpooned by artisanal fishermen, is preferable to those caught by long-line methods that result in a large by-catch of sharks.

 Linguado (flounder, sole, Paralichthys adspersus)

One of the most expensive of Chilean fish, at 8,000 CLP or more per kg., linguado are found in and just beyond the surf on sandy beaches from the Peruvian border south to Chiloe.  When you see people fishing in the surf with long rods, they are usually fishing for linguado. A delicious, white fleshed, mild fish, eaten fried, grilled, or poached; like Dover sole.


There are hundreds of eatable fish in Chilean waters, so the few I have discussed here are only the most common ones available in Santiago.  For some others, and for shellfish, see my other posts on seafood.  And for a more complete list with pictures, see Peces de Chile

Where and how to buy fresh Chilean fish

The best selection, the best and freshest fish and the best prices are at caletas, fishermen’s wharves where artisanal fishermen sell their catch. The fish is absolutely fresh, and there are species that never arrive in metropolitan supermarkets.

The caleta at Horcon

Unfortunately, that’s not usually possible for Santiagueños, so the next best choice is the Mercado Central, in the photo at the top, or neighborhood ferias, like the one below, where I buy almost all my fish. Here’s a list of feria locations.

 The feria fish sellers know the fish and their customers, and can be counted on to recommend the best buys of the day and how to prepare them. When you buy whole fish the vendors will clean and filet it to your specifications (a tip is appreciated). Feria prices are usually higher than at the Mercado central, but lower that supermarkets, and the fish is fresh; not always the case in supermarkets.

How do you know it’s fresh?

Fresh fish looks alive; the eyes are clear and shiny, the gills are red [5] and the skin is moist and smooth, not dry and wrinkled. Fresh fish smells like nothing; or perhaps like the sea.  If it looks dead and smells like fish, don’t buy it.  At the feria and the fish market you can touch the fish, smell it, and make sure it’s fresh.  At the supermarket that’s not always possible.  And when it’s sold in little trays, filleted, plastic wrapped and “sanitary” you won’t know until you get it home. 

Link: Prize winning photographer (and Eating Chilean reader) Mark J. Davis, has had his fine photo essay,  "Industrial Fishing Threatens Chile's Fishermen,published in Time Magazine.  Take a look. (Thanks Mark).

And for other Chilean seafood, see these links:

[1] Si, caros mariscos y pescados en Santiago, con luka y media salen dos pescaditos asi de chitititos, no los dejan ni crecer a los pobres, con 700 salen 5 almejitas y 750 unos pocos de choritos, no alcanza ni para una paila marina pobre. en cambio con 1500, te sale un COMPLETO DOBLE GIGANTE DE ESTE VUELO, CON BEBIDA INCLUIDA, QUE RICO, COMO QUEDA LA GUATITA?????  (Unless otherwise noted, all translations are mine.)
[2] FACT SHEET: The international fish trade and world fisheries, United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). 2006. On line at 
[3] Recent Developments In Fish Trade, Committee On Fisheries Sub-Committee On Fish Trade Twelfth Session, Buenos Aires, Argentina, 26-30 April 201. On linea at
[4] The basic sources for all fish are Recursos Pesqueros, Instituto de Fomento Pesquero, On line at;  Peses de Chile, Principales Peces Marinos de Importancia Comercial de la Zona Centro-Sur de Chile. On line at; and Peses de Chile On line at Data of fish popularity is from a 1999 survey of people in the greater Santiago area, summarized at Eating Seafood in Chile, on line at  Recipes in English are widely available at
[5] If the fish has soaked in ice water, the gills may be pink and bleached looking on fresh fish. But if they are muddy-brown, it’s old.

Monday, May 3, 2010

What Chileans Eat: The Chilean National Diet/La Dieta Nacional Chilena

Meat is often served grilled, or asado, as in Argentina and covered in pebre, a condiment similar to Mexican salsa. Lamb, beef, and pork are the most common meats, chicken being considered inferior, though it too is consumed. The Traditional Diet of Chile,
Chileans probably eat more seafood than any other Latin American country. New Latin cuisine: a taste of Chile
Many recipes are accompanied and enhanced by Chilean wine such as Curanto.  Gourmet Girl Magazine
Interesting quotations, though not especially useful in understanding the Chilean diet: pebre is not served “covering” grilled meat; lamb is the least common meat in Chile[1]; chicken is Chile’s most important source of animal protein[2]; Peruvians and Mexicans eat more seafood than Chileans[3]; and curanto is not a wine, but a clam-bake of shellfish, meats and potatoes.

But what do Chileans eat?  “Typical Chilean foods” like cazuela, pastel de choclo, humitas, and porotos granados (boiled dinner, corn pie, tamales, and shell beans with corn and pumpkin) are certainly popular, but are they what Chileans eat every day; major sources of calories and proteins and fats?

Clockwise from top left: cazuela, asado, humitas, locos mayo;  center, empanadas.

It’s not easy to find out, for Chile or for other countries. The major sources of information are dietary surveys, typically of some portion of the population (school children, the elderly, indigenous people, etc.); household expenditure surveys, showing the estimated percentage of household expenses on various food categories; and national food production and import/export data: production + imports – exports – waste = “consumption” (more or less).  Keep in mind that the mass of “facts” and figures you read here (or in other places on this topic) should always be preceded by “more or less,” it’s not rocket science.  [Note: For a less academic discussion of what Chileans eat, see Eating Chilean: Gastronomic Geography of Chile]

What Chileans eat 1:  Bread

Chileans eat more bread than citizens of any other country except Germany, an average of 208 kg. (458 lbs.) per household per year.[4] And families in the poorest 20% of the population eat even more, 228 kg. (502 lbs.)  Data from 1997-98 show that the average Santiago household spent 9% of its food expenditures on bread, and the poorest 60% of households spent more on bread than on any other single food, averaging 13%.[5]  Most of that bread, almost 97%, is bakery style “French bread” (marraquetas [photo] and hallullas) sold by the kg.; packaged loaf bread makes up only 3.4% of sales and whole wheat bread was bought by only 28% of households.[6]  In addition Chileans spent an average of 4% of their income on other wheat products, pasta, cakes, cookies and crackers, and about 1% on rice (no data for corn, oats, etc.)  Thus, bread and other cereal products provided 39% of Chile’s calories (down from 48% in 1961) and about 14% of their food expenditures.  For comparison, the contribution of grains to US diet is 24%[7]

Why so much bread?  It’s good; it’s (relatively) cheap at 700 to 1000 CLP/kg $.65 to $.90 lb.), and it’s very much a part of Chile’s food traditions.  Breakfast is bread, and perhaps ham or cheese; bread is usually served with almuerzo, “lunch” the largest meal of the day; onces “tea” eaten from 5:00 to 7:00 PM  is usually a sandwich on bread; and cena “supper” eaten at 9:00 or later usually includes bread.[8]  An adult man can easily eat 3 whole marraquetas a day, at about 430 calories each, totaling about 1300 calories; 45% of a reasonable caloric intake for a moderately active man.  (And for an excellent history of Chilean bread, see Criss Salizar's blog Urbatorium)

What Chileans eat 2: Sugar

According to FAO data[9], the second major food category in Chilean diet is sugar and other sweeteners, providing 16% of calories (USA 19%).  Sugar comprised an average of 1.3% of household food expenditures, an additional 7.1% went to carbonated beverages, and 1% went to powdered drink mixes for a total of approximately 8.5% for sweetened water (and a little flavoring).   Chilean soft drink consumption, estimated at 95 lt. per person per year in 2006[10] was still relatively low; US consumption was 216 lt. In 2002[11]

Note: Jan 2017  WHO reports that Chile's per capita sugar consumption is the second highest in the world at 142.7 gm. per day (4.5 oz). That's a kg. per week and 52 kg (115 lbs.) a year. Poland is #1. El Mercurio  Jan 5, 2017

What Chileans eat 3: Meat, poultry and fish

Third after bread and sugar, Chileans eat meat, poultry and a little fish, together making up 13% of calories (USA 14%) and 19% of their food pesos in 1997. The most popular meat was beef; all 5 income groups spent from 8 to 10% of their food budget on beef.  Chicken is the second meat, accounting for almost 6% of expenditures in the poorest group and 3% in the most affluent.   Next are “cecinas,” cold cuts and sausages, usually pork, commonly eaten with bread for breakfast or onces.  The average household spent 3.3% of its food money on ceninas.  Fresh pork was next to last, representing on average only 1.1% of expenditures; and surpassed only fresh fish, at 0.8%.  Lamb, with consumption of less that .5 kg. per person per year in Santiago, didn’t make the chart.[12]

Meat consumption has changed since 1997, increasing from 65 to 81 kg. in 2008[13] and its composition has changed greatly, with beef declining to third place:

Domestic consumption of poultry meat grew another 11 percent in 2006 and became the most important source of animal protein in Chile, mainly as a result of the higher prices of beef during the same period of time, which resulted by a significant fall of beef imports. Per capita consumption of poultry meat in 2006 was 33.9 kilos, followed by pork with 22.5 kilos and beef with 22.0 kilos.[14]  (For more see Eating Chilean Beef )

Seafood consumption, has also declined from 19 kg per person per year in 1995 to 13 kg in 2003, and reportedly, 7 kg in 2010; concomitant with an increase from 86% to 90% of Chilean seafood exports.  By comparison Spain and Mexico average about 20 kg. seafood per capita.[15]  Chilean seafood is quite expensive, with the least expensive fish costing around 2,000 CLP per kg., ($1.80/lb) for whole fish, or about 600 CLP ($1.20) for a modest serving.  An equivalent serving of ground beef costs around 400 CLP ($.80) and chicken and pork are less.   (For more see Eating Chilean Fish)

What Chileans eat 4: Fats and oils

Vegetable oils and animal fats added to foods provided 12% of Chilean calories in 1997. This is actually a relatively low percentage; comparable figure for the US is 22%. And total fat consumption (including fats naturally occurring in foods) is estimated to be at 78 grams per day, 30% of calories—the percentage recommended by the American heart Association. But fat intake rises with income, and this data is from 1997 when Chilean per capita income was only about 60% of what it is today.[16]

Chilean households spent, on average, 1.7% of their food expenditure on vegetable oil; animal fats and margarine expenditures were too low (<.8%) to be included in the data.  Chileans use vegetable oils in cooking, and to season salads and boiled potatoes. Fried potatoes are very common on restaurant menus; and one survey reported that 26% of Chileans ate two or more high fat foods (mayonnaise, cheese, fried potatoes or other fried foods) per week.[17]   Mayonnaise is very popular; Chileans are said to be the greatest mayonnaise consumers per capita in Latin America and third in the world.

The most common oils in Chile are soy bean and sunflower oil.  Chilean olive oil production is only about 1/10 of a lt. per person per year.[18]

What Chileans eat 4: Fruits and vegetables, potatoes and legumes.

Late summer fruits and vegetables from the feria, farmers market.

Together these three food categories contributed 11% of Chileans calories in 1997 (fruits and vegetables, 5%; tubers and roots, 4%; and legumes, 2%). (Only potatoes (1.8% of expenditures) and tomatoes (1.5%) were included in the expenses chart, of items 0.8% of food expenses or more.)

Data on fruit and vegetable consumption is relatively difficult to find, but a 1997 survey of 871 adults in Santiago found fruit consumption to average 83 gm per day (30 kg. per year) for men  and 140 gm (51 kg./year) for women.  Vegetable consumption was 190 gm (69 kg/yr) in men and 178 gm. (65 kg/yr in women.  Slightly fewer that 50% of men and women consumed recommended quantities of vegetables and only about 30% consumed as much fruit as recommended in dietary guidelines.[19]

The most popular annual frits and vegetables in terms of area planted are corn, lettuce, tomatoes, onions, squash, artichoke, melons, carrots, green peas, watermelons, green beans, shell beans, and asparagus, all of which were planted on over 2,500 hectares (6,200 acres) in 2007.  The most popular perennial fruits were table grapes, avocados, apples, plums, peaches, olives, walnuts, blueberries, kiwifruit, oranges, lemons, raspberries, almonds and pears, each of which was planted on 5,000 hectares or more.[20]

But these data can be misleading; Chile exported 65% of its fruits and vegetables in 2003 (up from 40% in 1995; resulting in a 22% decrease in domestic fruit availability in spite of increased production[21]), so production choices reflect export preferences rather than simply local ones.  Never the less, all the fruits and vegetables above are regularly available in local farmers markets, most at very reasonable prices; blueberries and raspberries show up in small quantities and are expensive. 

Potato consumption in Chile averages 55 kg per person per year[22], considerably higher than the Latin American and world averages (21 kg. and 31 kg. respectively), but lower than N. American (60 kg.) and European averages (88 kg.)[23]  A choice of puré (mashed potatoes), plain boiled potatoes, or French fries, is usually available with any main course in Chilean restaurants.

Legumes, primarily beans and lentils, are very much a part of Chile’s culinary tradition, as reflected in the popular saying “more Chilean than beans.” (See  Eating Chilean Beans: Porotos Granados and others)  In 1935 the Chilean journal Social Service published A study of the situation of one family” which included estimates of monthly expenditures, including “10 kg of beans.”[24]   But they now provide only a very small proportion of Chile’s calories, 2% in 1998. In 2006 annual consumption of dry beans was 1.5 kg per capita, down from 4 kg. 15 years earlier.[25]  In 1997 household expenses for beans were down 45% from 10 years earlier, and were not listed in the food expenditures survey report, presumably because they were below the cutoff at 0.8%

What Chileans eat 5: Dairy products and eggs

2001 FAO data show that 7% of Chilean calorie consumption came from dairy products and eggs (USA 10.5%).  On the expenditures side, milk accounted for 2.2% of 1997 food budgets; cheese, 2.6%; powdered milk, 1.4%; yogurt, 1.2%; and eggs, 1.2%, for a total of 8.6%. 

Chile’s milk consumption in 2009 was 128 lt. per person; the World Health Organization recommends 160 lt.[26]  (USA 2003, 84 lt. down for a 1945 peak of 179 lt.[27]) It is available in all types, from whole to non-fat and flavored, and most milk is ultra pasteurized, so it needs no refrigeration if unopened and has a shelf life of 6 months. Prices average around 500 CPL/lt. ($.90 qt.). Cheese consumption was 5 kg in 2007[28] (USA 2003, 13.6 kg [29]).  Households surveyed in 1997 spent 2.4 to 3% of their food pesos on cheese, though for the lowest quintile, this was only 2,700 CLP, less that half the 6,000 CLP spent by the most affluent quintile. Common cheese (not processed) costs about 4,000 CLP/kg. ($3.60/lb.)

Fried fish a lo pobre.  Photo

And Chileans ate 175 eggs per year in 2007, up 6% in the last 10 years[30] (USA, estimate 259, 2007[31]).  Eggs are currently around 1,400 CLP/dozen ($2.80).

Eggs are not a part of the Chilean breakfast, but they are popular at other meals.  Lomo a lo pobre (literally “steak, poor man’s style”, i.e. topped with fired eggs) is on virtually every menu and almost anything can be ordered a lo pobre, (including pizza).  Tortillas, omelets with eggs and potatoes or vegetables are also common almuerzo and supper dishes.

What Chileans eat away from home.

Photo: Chile Hoy
 “70% of TV ads for children are for fast food”

The 1997 food expense survey (Crovetto M. & M. Mirta. 2002) also asked about meals eaten away from home.  The most common was almuerzo, eaten between 1:00 and 3:00 and traditionally the main meal of the day.  The average household surveyed spent 10% of their food pesos on these meals, increasing regularly form 3% in the poorest 20% of households to 17.7% in the most affluent.

In the two lowest quintiles, lunches and meals away from home would be meat-filled empanadas; a completo Italiano [hotdog with mayonnaise, avocado and tomato]; humitas [tamales]; sopapillas [fried breads]; chicken with French fries; or a fast food combo with cheese, mayonnaise, catsup and a carbonated drink.  For the third quintile, a light lunch would be an empanada and tea; a completo and tea; chicken with French fries; or a cheeseburger, drink and French fries.  For the fourth quintile it would be chicken with French fires, Chinese food, pizza, or a hamburger with avocado and tomato, and a drink.  The most affluent quintile would have a menú ejecutiva [“executive lunch,” a set menu of first and main course, dessert and often a drink, beer, wine or bottled water], lomo a lo pobre, chicken and French fires, pizza, or a vegetarian plate.  All these accompanied by tea, coffee, carbonated beverage or juice, and in the case of the sandwiches and French fries with mayonnaise or catsup. (Unless otherwise noted, all translations are mine)

The consequences

From Chile's Merco Press:

Chile is among the top five nations leading the world in childhood obesity, according to new statistics released by Junaeb, a Chilean organization focused on children and education.

Approximately 18% of Chilean students are obese, compared to the current rate of 16% in the U.S. That Chile has surpassed even the U.S. in levels of childhood obesity particularly worries health experts, given that the U.S. is generally said to be suffering from a national "obesity epidemic."  This announcement follows a report this week by Nutrimóvil of Nestlé that Santiago residents exceed a healthy body mass index by an average of three points. The study attributes Santiago's obesity problem in part to the sedentary lifestyle many residents lead.

An astounding 91.2% of Chileans said they never participated in any form of physical activity, according to the 2000 National Health Survey, released in 2003. The study also found that 61.3% of Chileans are overweight.[32]



A Power Point summary of The Chilean National Food Consumption Survey of 2010-2011 (Encuesta Nacional de Consumo de Alimentos 2010-2011)  Aafter reading this post you won't find too many surprises, but it's good to have more recent data.  

Some highlights:  

Men are reported to average  2210 calories per day and 73 grams of protein while women average 1561 calories and 52 grams of protein.

People eating over 110% of their recommended caloric intake include:

 16% of urban and 28% of rural people,
 12% of people in the top socioeconomic category,
  31% of those in the lowest socioeconomic categor,
  29% of children 4 to 5 years old,
  27% of girls 14 to 18,
  23% of women 19 to 30,
  6% of men 19 to 30, and 
 25% of men 31 to 50.

Chilean meal patters are:

      breakfast, between 8:00 and 10:00, eaten by 90% of the population
      almuerzo ("lunch," the main meal of the day) between 1:00 and 2:00 pm,    eaten by 96% 
       onces  ("tea") at 6:00 to 8:00 pm eaten by 82% of the population  
       Cena  ("supper") between 8:00 and 10:00, is eaten by only 30% of the population, but another 31% have an evening "snack" (colación)  at that hour.

[1] Avilés, Hardy. 2002 Cordero todo el año. Campo Sureño, on line at
[2] Chile Poultry Livestock and Products Production 2008, The Poultry Site, on line at
[3] Jordan, Jane. 2007. Aquaculture hot spots: China and Latin America. The Fish Site. On line at
[4] Bread consumption in Chile, Latin Panel. On line at [link broken, accessed 10/22/2009]
[5] This and other % of food expenditure data is from Crovetto M., M. Mirta. 2002. Cambios en la estructura alimentaria y consumo aparente de nutrientes de los hogares del gran santiago 1988-1997. Rev. Chil. Nutr. [online]. 2002, vol.29, n.1 pp. 24-32 . Available from: <>.
[6] Bread consumption in Chile, op. cit.
[7] This and other figures for caloric contribution to US food supply are from “U.S. food supply: Nutrients contributed from major food groups, per capita per day, 1970 and 20001.” Nutrient Availability Spreadsheet. On line at
[8] While some families do eat 4 meals per day, it is common to combine onces and cena, eating some reheated leftovers from almuerzo along with bread and cold cuts, or to eat one or the other.
[9] Perfiles Nutricionales por Países – CHILE Octubre 2001, FAO Rome. On Line at
[10]Crece el Consumo de Bebidas y Aguas. On line at
[11] Food Statistics. Soft drink consumption (most recent) by country. Nation On line at
[12] Avilés, Hardy 202 op. cit.
[13] Chilenos consumen aún seis veces más carne pese a avance de pescados y mariscos. 13/08/09 Estrategia Online Chile. On line at,5310,5280449_5282927_5284940_4243009_CL,00.html
[14] Chile poultry livestock… op. cit.
[15] Chilenos consumen… op. cit. ; ¡Vengüenza nacional! Chilenos sólo comen 7 kilos de pescados al año. La Cuarta.  Miércoles 5 de Mayo de 2010.  On line at

 [16] Chile GDP - per capita (PPP) Index Mundi On line at
[17] Mendoza V., Carolina, Anna Christina Pinheiro F. Hugo Amigo C. 2007. Evolución de la situación alimentaria en Chile. Revista Chilena de Nutrición, marzo, año/vol. 34, número 001 On line at
[18] Análisis de Aceites de Origen Vegetal. 2008 On line at
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