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Colombia Constitutional Court recognized for its decision to fight censorship about ads displaying the truth about sugary drinks

(Bogota, Colombia and New York, USA) – Vital Strategies today welcomed news that the Constitutional Court of Colombia’s “Sugary Drinks” Decision has been awarded Columbia University’s 2018 Columbia Global Freedom of Expression Prize in the Significant Ruling Category. The case concerned censorship of the “Take It Seriously” obesity prevention campaign, implemented by Educar Consumidores with support from Vital Strategies, and the successful legal action to overturn that censorship by Educar Consumidores and other members of the Alliance for Food Health, including the Colombian NGO Dejusticia.

José Luis Castro, President and Chief Executive Officer of Vital Strategies said: “We congratulate Educar Consumidores on their ground-breaking campaign, “Take It Seriously” and all of the partners on their hard-fought legal victory to ensure that message could be heard. The Columbia Global Freedom of Expression Prize sends a clear message that consumers in every country have the right to know the potential harms associated with unhealthy products like sugary drinks. We hope the ruling, and this recognition, are beacons of hope for health advocates around the world. Vested industry interests should not be able to over-ride public health, nor censor messages and information that are based on proven science.”

The Colombia Legal Action

In response to a complaint by beverage company Postobón, Colombia’s Superintendency of Industry and Commerce (SIC) banned a public service announcement (PSA) called “Take It Seriously.” The PSA shows how easy it is to consume the equivalent of 47 teaspoons of sugar in one day from just four sugar-sweetened beverages, and the harm these sugary drinks cause to health. The Constitutional Court of Colombia ruled that this ban violated consumers’ rights to know about these harms and amounted to prior restraint. The Columbia Global Freedom of Expression Prize judges recognized the Court’s decision for advancing and strengthening global understanding of international standards on freedom of expression and information.

The new campaign

After “Take It Seriously” was taken off the air, obesity prevention advocates in Colombia continued to advance their work with the launch of “No comas más mentiras ni se las des a tus hijos” (“Don’t Eat More Lies And Don’t Serve Them To Your Kids”). This campaign supported a petition at, launched by Red PaPaz, which calls for restrictions on junk food marketing to protect children. The second phase of this campaign, launched yesterday, is a response to research that indicates 87% of Colombians support the introduction of clear, front of package labelling to warn parents about unhealthy levels of salt, fat and sugar in products that are commonly marketed to children. The campaign will be broadcast for five (5) weeks via TV and radio, over digital media and shown on posters at bus stops.


Notes to Editors

Partners in the legal action in Colombia

Partners in the legal action included members of the Alliance for Food Health, such as the Colombian Obesity Foundation, High Cost Patients, International Network of Pro Food Groups-IBFAN, Red PaPaz, the Consumer Center for Security Food and Nutrition, FIAN Colombia, Anaas Foundation, Semilla Andina Foundation, and the National Impulse Committee for Family Agriculture in Colombia; La Liga Contra el Cáncer (the Colombian League Against Cancer); and other representatives from civil society.

About Vital Strategies

Vital Strategies is a global health organization that believes every person should be protected by a strong public health system. Our team combines evidence-based strategies with innovation to help develop and implement sound public health policies, manage programs efficiently, strengthen data systems, conduct research, and design strategic communication campaigns for policy and behavior change. To find out more, please visit or Twitter @VitalStrat.

For further information or to arrange an interview with a Vital Strategies public health expert, please contact