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Member Research and Reports

Member Research and Reports

UNC: Chilean Policies Reduce Purchases of Unhealthy Beverages by 24 Percent – The First National Evaluation of the Impact of a Front-of-the-Package Food Label Law

Chile’s Law of Food Labeling and Advertising, implemented in 2016, was the first national regulation to jointly mandate front-of-package warning labels, restrict child-directed marketing, and ban the sale in schools of all foods and beverages containing added sugars, sodium or saturated fats exceeding set thresholds (also called “high-in” food and beverages).

A new study led by researchers at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill Gillings School of Global Public Health evaluated the impact of this policy package and found a significant reduction in household purchases of high-in beverages from 2015 to 2017.

“This regulation is different because it is the first to require warning labels about excess levels of nutrients of concern, such as sugar or sodium, on the front of food and beverage packages,” noted first author Dr. Lindsey Smith Taillie, an assistant professor of nutrition at the Gillings School. “In addition, the regulation includes the world’s strictest limits on how and where food companies can advertise junk food to children. The reductions we observed in sugary drink purchases were markedly greater than those seen following the implementation of standalone policies — such as a tax on sugar-sweetened beverages — elsewhere in Latin America.”

The full paper on these findings was published online February 11 by the journal Plos Med. Taillie conducted the research with Dr. Barry M. Popkin, W.R. Kenan, Jr. Distinguished Professor of Nutrition at the Gillings School, and colleagues from the University of Chile at Santiago and the National Institute of Public Health in Mexico.

Ultimately, the research team found that the purchase volume of high-in beverages decreased by 23.7 percent after the regulation took effect.

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