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The Chilean government does not mess around

  • Posted on Apr 24, 2018

Chili has the most overweight men in the southern continent and the government made a decision to address the problem. Since 2012, Chili has implemented ambitious policies designed to change the food culture.

What is spurring the action? The cost associated with caring for an obese population is expected to triple by 2030. These include medical treatments, disability, lost productivity and early mortality. Since 2015 they have implemented measures that: restrict marketing of unhealthy foods, promote heathy foods in school environments, use black octagonal labels (like a stop sign) on foods that have higher contents of sugar, salt, and saturated fats, and impose high taxes on drinks with higher sugar contents.

It’s a big deal. Tony the tiger is not allowed on cereal boxes. Kinder Egg has been banned. Schools are replacing ice cream with yogurt smoothies. Starting in June, advertising of unhealthy foods won’t be allowed between 6am and 10pm. Companies are paying attention. Coca-Cola is reducing its sugar content in two of their leading drinks in Chili. Parents are paying attention. Those labels are affecting a mother’s decision on what to buy. Surprisingly, the sugar tax has not had as much impact despite being a whooping 18%. There has been a backlash from the food industry calling the measures invasive. They argue that there is not enough focus on exercise. This experiment is being watched around the world to see if it has an impact. I’m hoping that it does.

Information derived from Medscape article titled “Chile Faces Food Industry Head-On in Fight Against Obesity” April 2018.

Susan Badaracco, pediatrician and author of “The Oath” series.