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February 14, 2018

In new media campaign, Brazilians ask government to approve clear and accurate food labels

Over 50,000 Brazilians have signed a petition in support of the proposed labelling model.

(São Paulo, Brazil and New York, USA) –  A media campaign urging the Brazilian Health Regulatory Agency (Anvisa) to approve a new food labelling model has been launched in Brasilia. It urges Anvisa to approve clear warning triangles on the front of food packaging to address health concerns over the country’s growing obesity epidemic. Amplifying a large advocacy campaign that generated  50,000 signatures on a petition,  it includes a simple, yet powerful message: “Anvisa, com os triângulos, 76% dos brasileiros entenderiam o que estão comendo.”  (“Anvisa, these triangles would help 76% of Brazilians to understand what they are eating.”)

The campaign was developed by Aliança pela Alimentação Adequada e Saudável (The Alliance for an Adequate and Healthy Diet), which includes Idec (Brazilian Institute of Consumer Protection) and ACT Health Promotion.  Vital Strategies, a global public health organization, provided technical assistance.

According to Brazil’s Ministry of Health, nearly one-fifth of Brazilians are obese (an increase of 60 percent between 2006 and 2016) and more than half are overweight. One in three children aged between five and nine years is overweight or obese. Increased consumption of processed foods is believed to be a key driver in this epidemic. Anvisa is considering proposals for a new food labelling model. It will launch a public consultation and make a final decision this year.

“This is a critical decision for public health,” said Sandra Mullin, Senior Vice President, Policy, Advocacy and Communication, Vital Strategies. “Strong policies will enable behavior change that will reduce Brazil’s obesity epidemic. Ensuring that consumers have clear, accurate information about unhealthy products and the consequences of consuming those products is a proven, cost-effective strategy to help drive that change. By adopting Idec’s highly effective labelling model, Brazil would set an example for the world.”

Idec, in partnership with the Alliance and the Federal University of Paraná (UFPR), submitted to Anvisa a proposal inspired by Chile’s food labelling model and based on World Health Organization-recommended nutrient profiling.  Research coordinated by the Center for Epidemiological Research in Nutrition and Health, University of São Paulo (Nupens / USP) found that Idec’s model significantly outperforms the food industry’s preferred ‘traffic light’ model. In a 2017 online survey of more than 1,600 people, 76 percent of respondents who viewed packaging with a warning triangle and the words “High in…” correctly identified whether a product contained high levels of salt, sugar, and fats, compared to 60 percent who correctly understood the ‘traffic light’ model.

The campaign will run on outdoor media and radio in Brasilia during the month of February. It will also run on TV and newspapers at a national level. Further information about the campaign and Idec’s labelling proposal is available at direitodesaber.org. This new campaign follows “You have the right to know what you eat,” which ran during November and December 2017 to build support among Brazilians for better food labelling.

Further information and stills from the campaign are available upon request.

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 www.vitalstrategies.org or Twitter @VitalStrat.

For further information or to arrange an interview with a Vital Strategies public health expert, please contact press@vitalstrategies.org.

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