Chile’s drastic anti-obesity measures cut sugary drink sales by 23%

Experts welcome example of nation once drinking more per head than any other.

The world’s toughest controls over the promotion of sugary drinks, brought in by a nation beset by obesity, have cut purchases by nearly a quarter in two years, research has shown.

Instead of a sugar tax, which the UK and other countries have chosen to impose, Chile has banned sales in schools and adopted stark black and white labels aimed at warning and educating families about the health dangers of junk food and drinks for their children.

Unlike the UK’s traffic lights, which may award a red label for sugar but also green for fruit content, Chile’s ministry of health labels only deliver the bad news: high in sugar, high in salt or high in fat. Sugary drinks, unhealthy snacks and packaged foods must carry the front-of-pack labels.

Researchers from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Gillings School of Global Public Health, publishing in the journal Plos Medicine, have found purchases of sugary drinks dropped by 23.7% during the first phase of the reforms. The largest changes were in the amount of sweetened fruit drinks and sweetened dairy drinks purchased.

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