Unhealthy Food Advertising

The Lempert Report
June 27, 2023

Some good news. We've talked before about Mexico, we've talked about Chile putting marketing restrictions in place on kids advertising, and it looks like it's really working. So in Chile, they have decreased kids exposure to unhealthy food advertising on TV by 73%, on general advertising by 64%. There's a full daytime ban across all TV, from 6am to 10pm, on these food ads that are targeted towards kids, and bottom line is their law of food labeling and advertising created warning labels on packages for unhealthy foods. They are ominous, black, scary signs and they ban their sale and promotion in schools. And it's probably the most ambitious framework in the world aimed at tackling rising nutrition related diseases and soaring healthcare costs. So it looks like it's working and maybe what we need is the FDA to take a look at what's going on in Chile and in Mexico and forget these healthy labels that we're spending millions and millions of dollars on that are going to be meaningless for people. Maybe we just need to do this.

Sally: Yes, this is a very bold policy with great results. Chile has a 33% obesity rate, so they are dealing with much, you know, with obesity rates, like we are here in the US, and diet related illness. So, yes, it is a great program that they started. They started in 2016 by prohibiting the marketing to children, but they realized it wasn't enough, and so that was in 2018 when they added the daytime ban, from 6 am to 10 pm, and one of the things that is also coming out of the results of their efforts was they're finding that, since they have banned certain products from being sold in schools and distributed to kids, they're finding that the kids are actually now encouraging their parents to buy better food products for them. So that is one great thing that's come out of this, but they're also saying that we need to look at how we can do more, because there is so much exposure to children when it comes to marketing of sugary, high sodium foods and drinks. There's a lot of energy drinks being promoted in gaining platforms and on TikTok, so that's a whole other area that we will probably need to address as well.

Phil:  Absolutely, and you mentioned that their obesity is at 33%, our overweight and obesity here in the US is over 60%. So clearly we should take a clue from our southern neighbors here and be able to change things.