Chilean government to assess the results of nutrition warning labels

By Stephen Daniells

- Last updated on GMT

© Getty Images / dk_photos
© Getty Images / dk_photos
Chile’s Chamber of Deputies is requesting an evaluation of the nation’s nutrition labeling law to assess if the law is meeting its objectives and if dietary habits are changing.

In a recent vote, a resolution was passed​ by the Chamber of Deputies requesting the President, via the Ministry of Health, to study and analyze the results obtained following the introduction of Chile’s National Law of Food Labeling and Advertising (Law 20.606).

The Deputies are seeking to measure Chileans’ food consumption, if there have been any changes in habits since the law was passes, and if there has been an impact on obesity rates in children, adolescents and adults.

According to the United Nations’ Panorama of food and nutrition security in Latin America and the Caribbean​ report (2017), 30% of Chilean adults are obese, putting the country second in the rankings behind the Bahamas (with 32% adult obesity).

The report also revealed that 7.5% of under-five year-olds were overweight, while 63% of older adults suffered from obesity linked to a sedentary lifestyle and poor diet.

National Law of Food Labeling and Advertising

Law 20.606 was passed in 2016 and requires foods to be labeled with nutritional information, specifically foods that contain a large amount of sugars, calories and high levels of sodium and saturated fats.

The law has three main goals:

1) To require front-of-package warning labels to identify pre-packaged HEFSS foods and beverages,
2) To forbid HEFSS foods in school kiosks and feeding programs, and
3) To restrict the marketing of HEFSS foods to children under age 14 years across different media platforms.

Evidence of success

As reported earlier this year by FoodNavigator-LATAM​, a paper by scientists from the University of North Carolina in the International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity ​indicated that the law has indeed changed eating habits in Chile.

“This study shows that regulations really change how mothers think about and purchase food for their children. Perhaps more importantly, children are key drivers in changing social norms and behaviors after the law,”​ said Lindsey Smith Taillie, assistant professor of nutrition at the UNC Gillings School and co-author.

Barry Popkin, professor of nutrition at the UNC Gillings School and senior investigator for the overall Chilean food law evaluation project, added: “This study, and others that follow, suggest that this cluster of regulations represents the first potential set of policies that may change food norms and tackle the poor-quality diets that increasingly affect children globally.”

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