Chile cracks down massively on child obesity and McDonald’s complies by cutting fat in Happy Meals

Chile June 28:Chile implemented a new food labelling law today in the hopes of lowering the country’s childhood obesity rate, which is one of the highest in the world.

The Health Ministry has ordered labels to be placed on food that is high in sugar, calories, sodium or saturated fat.

It also bans the sale of any of those products in schools as well as advertisements for them that target children under age 14.

Such foods also cannot be sold with a toy under the law, which experts say will be one of the strictest of its kind.

“This will be the most demanding law in the world as it follows a series of recommendation by the World Health Organisation regarding the quantity of certain substances,” Paloma Cuchi, WHO’s regional representative, told The Associated Press.

McDonald’s has modified its children’s meals in Chile by reducing the amount of salt, sugar and saturated fats to meet the law’s nutritional requirements, says Silvina Seiguer, head of McDonalds’s corporate communications for South America.

McDonald’s will continue to include toys with those meals because its changes follow the new law, Seiguer says.

Italy’s Ferrero Group recently threatened to take legal action against Chile to protect its Kinder Surprise chocolate-shelled eggs beloved by children for the small toy inside.

Hunger has been greatly reduced in Latin America and the Caribbean, but obesity has doubled in the region in the past decade, to almost 62 per cent of adults and 26 per cent of young people.

Countries like Chile and Mexico are nearing the overweight and obesity levels of the United States, WHO says.

In Chile, the Health Ministry says five in every 10 children are overweight and one in every 11 deaths is linked to obesity.

Small businesses will have up to 36 months to fully comply, but had to begin modifying their products today. Those who fail to follow the new legislation could be fined.

AP

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