Statement from Trish Cotter, Global Lead, Food Policy Program at Vital Strategies, on Colombia passing a new law establishing front-of-package labeling on ultra-processed foods:
August 6, 2021 (Bogota, Colombia): “Colombia’s new ‘junk food law,’ which puts clear warning labels on foods with critical nutrients high in salt, sugar and saturated fats, is a major win for public health and for consumers. We applaud the policymakers who advanced the law and the civil society advocates who have been fighting tirelessly for protections for consumers, especially children, in the face of a burgeoning obesity epidemic. Colombia has joined a growing movement for heathier diets and we urge other countries to follow suit.
Unhealthy diets increase the risk of diabetes, heart disease and cancer, and are estimated to be responsible for 11 million preventable deaths each year worldwide. In Colombia, 56% of people between the ages of 18 and 64 are overweight or obese. Pre-packaged food and beverages are known drivers of this global health crisis. During the COVID-19 pandemic, it has become even more difficult for people to get access to affordable and healthy food—a situation that will likely get worse before it gets better.
Smart front-of-package warning labels are proven to work. The average person spends less than 10 seconds reading food labels when they are shopping for groceries. Front-of-package warning labels provide trusted and true information amid the attractive, colorful and often misleading packaging on many unhealthy products. In Chile, front-of-package warning labels on sugar-sweetened beverages reduced purchases by almost 25% in just 18 months.
We commend our partners, Red PaPaz, “José Alvear Restrepo” Lawyers Collective (CAJAR), FIAN Colombia and DeJusticia, who have long worked to communicate the importance of clear and accurate food labeling to policymakers and the public, and have exposed industry efforts to curtail policy development. Colombia joins a growing list of countries in the region, including Brazil, Chile, Uruguay, Peru and Mexico, that have prioritized the health and well-being of children and families by adopting strong policies to address the obesity epidemic.
For more information on Vital Strategies’ work in food policy, please visit: https://www.vitalstrategies.org/programs/food-policy/
About Vital Strategies
Vital Strategies is a global health organization that believes every person should be protected by a strong public health system. We work with governments and civil society in more than 70 countries to design and implement evidence-based strategies that tackle their most pressing public health problems. Our goal is to see governments adopt promising interventions at scale as rapidly as possible. To find out more, please visit www.vitalstrategies.org or Twitter @VitalStrat.
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