Chile's consumption of sugary drinks drops 25%

Consumption of sugary drinks has dropped by nearly 25% in Chile — thanks to a law that many hope will drastically reduce obesity in the country.

How did they do it?

“It says high fat.” “High sugar, that’s bad.” “This one’s bad, high calories and saturated fats.” “Plus, it’s a burger. Burgers are bad for you.” These are all comments children in Chile have made regarding food that has been presented to them.

Thanks to these stickers, Chileans have gone from being the biggest consumers of sugary drinks in the world, to cutting purchases by nearly a quarter in less than 2 years

“I avoid buying products that have too many labels. I buy the ones with the least amount of sugar or calories.”, one local resident reveals. To combat obesity, hypertension, and diabetes, Chile introduced tough restrictions on soft drinks and junk food in 2016. Ads for unhealthy products can’t be aired on TV between 6 a.m. and 10 p.m. Junk food is banned in schools. Unhealthy food packages have been redesigned, with cartoons like Tony the Tiger mandatorily erased from cereal boxes.

Food and drinks high in salts, calories, saturated fats, or in sugar need to be labeled with these warnings

“The first thing this law does is to establish a human right, which is the right to know. That there is a symmetry in the market between the buyer, the consumer and the salesperson. Nowadays, there is no symmetry because only the person selling a product knows what's inside.”, Guido Girardi, who is a Senator and the author of the labelling law, explains. To avoid the mandatory labeling, companies like Coca Cola and Nestlé, are changing the ingredients of their products and lowering the levels of sodium and artificial sweetening.

The Chilean law is inspiring other countries facing the global obesity crisis

Countries like Peru, Uruguay or Israel have implemented similar labelling policies, while Brazil and Mexico are expected to follow suit. In Chile, 34.4% of adults are obese. Half of American adults could be obese by 2030.