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

The chilean case: the set of marketing, front of package and tax actions

Camila Corvalan, R. Kanter, A. Martinez, F. Mediano, M. Reyes

Instituto de Nutricion y Tecnología de los Alimentos-INTA, Santiago, Chile

Introduction/Objectives: Chile is one of the countries with the highest obesity prevalence worldwide. In 2013, 67% of adults and 46% of school-age children presented excess weight. This epidemic is the result of important dietary and physical changes: in 2007, financial expenditure of processed food represented 57% of total food expenditure; and less than 10% of Chilean adults reported 30 minutes of physical activity three times per week during their leisure time. The objective of this presentation is to review the set of large-scale regulatory actions that the Chilean government is implementing to promote healthier food environments in an attempt to curb the observed obesity trends. b) Development: Beginning 10-15y ago the Chilean Ministry of Health has been trying to implement actions and to develop programs that promote healthier diets and increase physical activity among Chileans. However, most of these actions have been at a small scale, poorly integrated, evaluated, and not sustained over time. Thus, obesity has increased rapidly in all age groups. In an effort to curb the obesity epidemic in Chile, larger-scale actions have been promoted by the government in the past few years. Most notably, in July 2012, the Chilean Senate approved the country-wide National Law of Food Labeling and Advertising (Law 20606). The Law has two major components: (i) point-of-food purchase labeling to improve consumer information through front-of-package, easy-to-understand labels, including specific messaging around sugar, saturated fats, sodium, and energy, and (ii) restrictions on marketing, advertising, and sales of unhealthy foods to children. The approach of mixing food labeling and marketing restrictions is based on evidence demonstrating that food labeling is one of the most cost-effective actions to prevent obesity at a populationscale and that marketing is linked to unhealthy weight gain, energy-dense and nutrient-poor diets among children. After intense discussions and lobbying, in April 2015 the Ministry of Health released the regulatory norms that will guide the implementation of this Law. Limits for defining which foods will be classified as high in energy and critical nutrients are provided (i.e. 275/70 kcal energy, 10/5g sugars, 4/3g saturated fat and 400/100 mg sodium per 100g of solid food/100 mL of beverages) are provided, as well as the size and design of the warning message that these foods will have to incorporate in their packages. The norms also define marketing restrictions for these foods: prohibits their sale or marketing in schools and bans their marketing to children <14 y (it does not allow the use of element that appeal the attention or interest of children <14y, wherever that takes place, through direct marketing and commercial hooks or promotional strategies, and also establish a limit of child´s audience for marketing on tv and internet). Implementation of the Law will be staggered across three years and the initiation is expected to be on May 2016. In addition, since October 2014, taxes from non-alcoholic beverages (i.e. sodas, energetic drinks, syrups, waters with flavors, etc.) were modified based on their sugar content. Beverages with more than 6.25 g of total sugar per 100 ml increased their taxes from 13% to 18% while beverages with equal or less than 6.25 g decreased their taxes from 13% to 10%. Taxing solid foods with excess sugars and further marketing restrictions are also under discussion. A compliance evaluation will be carried out after one year of the 20606 Law’s implementation and it is likely that the Ministry of Health will consider further impact evaluations. Labeling and marketing data is now being collected as part of an ongoing project on Food System Monitoring (INFORMAS-Chile) and will serve for the purposes of defining baseline information; food purchase data is needed to fully assess impact. Most of these large-scale actions have been centrally promoted from the government and Senate with support from academia; while participation of the civil society has been almost inexistent slowing progress. c) Conclusions: different large-scale policy actions are being implemented in Chile to curb the obesity epidemic; however there is an urgent need for rigorous evaluations to assess their effectiveness. Civil society will have to be active to promote the implementation and evaluation of obesity prevention policies but also to hold governments and industry accountable for their actions. d) Keywords: Chile, Marketing & Food Labeling, Food Environment Regulations.