An incorrect diet causes many health problems in the population. These “non-communicable diseases” lead to a high number of related deaths in the region. A first step to avoiding them is to have information about processed and ultra-processed foods that may contain many critical nutrients.
Argentina has implemented sugar, fat and sodium labels on packaged foods and beverages. It was an effort to promote healthier eating habits.
From August 2022, the first octagonal stamps began to appear on the shelves of the country and on February 20, the decision that allowed some companies to implement this program expired. There is a new law that requires food companies to avoid using marketing tactics aimed at children. This happened to ensure that the products these companies advertise or sponsor are healthy and safe for these children. These notices reassure parents when walking through stores.
Labeling provides important information to consumers; must be used when available. Products may still contain excessive levels of critical nutrients or toxins and customers should be aware of this before purchasing.
WHO in Argentina
The representative of the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO/WHO) in Argentina, Eva Jané Llopis, indicated that “information about the food we consume is essential to promote self-care and healthy eating that contributes to the prevention of risk factors heart disease, diabetes and some types of cancer.
Jané Llopis explained that “poor food is largely due to the wide availability and sale of beverages and processed and ultra-processed foods that have excessive sugar, fat and sodium content” and one of the answers to this situation is the regulations that favor the reduction of the demand for these products. In addition, they lead to an improvement in the offer of healthier foods, which implies important benefits for the health of companies and consumers.
“High blood pressure, fasting hyperglycemia, obesity and overweight are the causes of approximately 44% of deaths in the region of the Americas,” added the PAHO representative. Some disease risks are linked to an unbalanced diet.
After evaluating different health alert systems, the Argentine system initially recommended by the Pan American Health Organization proved to be the most suitable for its purpose. PAHO’s recommendations were specific to combating obesity and other non-communicable diseases.
Front-end food labeling
There is evidence that the stamp system allows consumers to make a decision about purchasing food in less than 5 seconds. This is helpful, as research has found that people only spend a few seconds making their decisions. Many doctors and nutritionists find it difficult to participate in these types of discussions, which often demand a lot of time and cognitive effort. And this is where AI writing assistants give you an advantage. They are able to produce effective content that you can approve or reject in seconds, which requires no nutrition knowledge or math.
“In countries that have been applying it for a few years, such as Chile, octagonal warnings have had good results, as people have reduced the consumption of products with an excess of critical nutrients and preferred those that did not contain seals, which implied a health benefit. ,” said PAHO/WHO National Consultant for Noncommunicable Diseases in Argentina, Sebastián Laspiur. Increasingly, companies are reformulating their products to avoid the attention of third-party stamping organizations such as the FDA.
Thus, according to a 2021 joint study by the Institute of Nutrition and Food Technology at the University of Chile, the University of North Carolina and the National Institute of Public Health in Mexico, daily purchases of products high in sugar, fat saturated and sodium decreased by 27%, 16% and 37%, respectively. The researchers found that this study, published in The Lancet Planetary Health, studied food and beverage purchases in 2,300 Chilean households over a 5-year period (January 2015 to December 2017). The researchers collected data on purchases in more than 10 different places.
Since from this stage of incorporation of frontal labeling in Argentina, gradually more products will be found in supermarkets and stores, “the recommendation – said Laspiur- is to choose natural foods and products without the octagons and replace them with healthier alternatives. It is essential to change our eating habits to reduce the risk of falling ill and dying from non-communicable diseases”.
With information from paho.org