Seventeen Mexican and international food companies have teamed up to roll out a new series of labels for processed foods and non-alcoholic drinks to help combat the country's major obesity problem.

The firms belong to Mexicon FMCG industry group Consejo Mexicano de la Industria de Productos de Consumo (ConMexico), which is behind the initiative.

The companies include Mexican bread giant Grupo Bimbo, Kellogg, Unilever and dairy firm Alpura.

ConMexico executive president Jaime Zabludovsky said the labels will provide more nutritional and health information to help consumers make better purchasing choices. It is hoped they will improve Mexican consumers' willingness to read labels as only eight out of ten consumers do this.

By 2013, the new system, called "check and choose", will be expanded to 300 brands.

Zabludovsky said the scheme was voluntary and encouraged other companies and food federations to participate. However, he said the country's government must do more to promote healthy-eating habits in a population where child obsesity rates are the highest in the world.