Food Labels - Lima, Peru
Evaluating the Implementation and Effects of Warning Advertising in Food Labels in Peru: A Mixed-methods Study
The food environment and childhood nutrition in Lima, Peru
In urban areas worldwide, obesity and overweight among children and adolescents are significant public health issues. To confront this burden, many countries are implementing policies to promote healthier food choices.
In Peru, the government implemented the Law for the Promotion of Healthy Eating for Children and Adolescents in 2013, which required that clear and standardized nutrition warnings (octagons) be placed on processed food and beverages containing trans-fat or classified as “high” in sodium, sugar, or saturated fats. The implementation of this law began in June of 2019, and food products with these “octagons” began appearing on store shelves.
The SALURBAL Study
A team of researchers from Universidad Peruana Cayetano Heredia (UPCH) is evaluating the effects of these warning labels on the food choices of adolescents in Lima, Peru.
To evaluate adolescents’ food choices, researchers designed and implemented an experiment with students, 10 to 14 years old, from two schools in low-income neighborhoods in Lima. A total of 449 participants were randomly assigned into two different groups: one receiving three processed food products from the same food category (e.g. sweet cookies or salty snacks) with only nutrition facts, and the other receiving the same food products with the octagons indicating if each product was high in sodium, sugar, and/or saturated fats. The participants were asked to indicate which product they would buy, and then to choose the healthiest food option among the three, and to describe the reasons for their choices. The data from the experiment is currently under analysis.
The team is also investigating the extent to which warning labels have been implemented in Peru, as well as the industry responses to these requirements (such as changes to ingredients or the implementation of new marketing strategies). Researchers are comparing packages and food labels from before and after implementation of the new regulation.
Partnerships and Collaborators
For the experiment, the research team worked closely with local administrators from Schools Fe y Alegría N° 3 and N°37 to coordinate students’ participation in the study.
For food labels analysis, data from packages (nutrition facts, ingredients, claims, marketing) will be used from an ongoing project funded by Bloomberg Philanthropies through University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.