In a controversial move, the Chilean government has banned Kinder Surprise and Happy Meals, in an attempt to tackle obesity.
Attitudes toward food and healthy eating are formed in childhood, which is why the Chilean government is taking steps to protect children from unhealthy foods.
Around a quarter of six year olds in Chile are overweight. Being overweight during childhood increases the risk of being overweight or obese in later life. Obesity has been linked with heart disease, diabetes and other health problems.
The government has targeted these particular foods because they are marketed using techniques specifically aimed at children. Although these foods are high in sugar and salt, they are actively promoted to children by the inclusion of a free toy. The government has introduced the ban despite years of industry lobbying to try to prevent the move.
Happy Meals and Kinder Surprise: Banned in Chile
The ban will be phased in by the Chilean government, who hope to set an example to the rest of the world. Senator Guido Girardi described the move as “a crusade against deceiving propaganda mainly directed at children”.
Speaking on ADN radio, Tito Pozarro from the Chilean Health Ministry explained: “Kinder Surprise Eggs and Happy Meals have a “commercial hook” for kids and contain “high levels of salt, sugar and saturated fat”.
The free toys given away in unhealthy lunches, chocolate treats and sugary cereals have helped to boost the popularity of these products. Not surprisingly, children beg their parents for certain foods so they can collect the toys on offer.
Educating Parents About Healthy Eating
The ban is only the beginning of the government’s plans. There is still more to be done to educate parents and children alike, about food choices, health, and food labelling. It is very hard to make good food choices when products are marketed as though they were healthy, but in fact contain hidden sugars. This is especially true of low fat foods, which are perceived as being healthy; however, sugar is almost always added to compensate for the lack of fat – even in dairy products like yoghurt and milk.
BellyBelly recommends all parents watch the eyeopening Australian documentary, That Sugar Film. If your children are old enough to understand, include them too.
Recommended Reading: To find out about another potential cause of childhood obesity, check out BellyBelly’s article Too Much Protein In Baby Formula Might Be Responsible For Obesity.