Large scale regulatory food-related government actions in Latin America: actions, impact, processes

An overview of large-scale regulatory actions to improve dietary intake patterns across LMIC with a focus on Latin America and some of the data options from the commercial sector for impact evaluation

Barry Popkin

University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, Estados Unidos de América

Introduction/objectives: To describe the major options being considered to promote a healthier diet with large-scale regulatory actions. Development: Taxation of foods and beverages deemed unessential and very unhealthy or in contrast identification and taxation of all foods not deemed healthy is one of the three major initiatives. The second is marketing controls focused around ways the food and advertising industries promote foods and beverages deemed unessential. This can be done either by identifying healthy foods and allowing promotion of them or doing the same with unhealthy foods and beverages. The third is front-of-the-package profiling. When done on a product by product category, you can do this with either a positive or negative logo identifying either healthy or unhealthy foods. Across low and middle income countries, most actions are partial and do not address systematically all three and do to systematically link them to create a much stronger synergism. At the same time minimal work has been done outside of the schools to address promotion and sales of unhealthy foods and beverages by complete restriction. The only country in the globe to tackle the food system, and this in a most limited way is Brazil with its requirements of a proportion of food coming from locally farmed products and a larger proportion coming from real food. No country has yet to tackle the larger food system and its profound incentives to promote unhealthy and unsustainable food production. Further none have taxed all sugar or all refined carbohydrates or undertaken any national effort in a systematic funded and regulatory manner to shift farming and processing of food toward a more healthful direction. Conclusions: Major steps forward are being taken in the Americas and SE Asia with few other examples. Serious evaluations exist only for Mexico and one limited Dutch tax of high saturated fat products. Key words: taxes, regulations, front-of-the-package profiles, food systems.