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Follow the Data Podcast: Mexico’s Forward-Thinking Food Policies: Do They Work?

A bus displaying a mass media campaign Bloomberg Philanthropies partners developed in Mexico to raise public support for front-of-package warnings labels to help people make healthy food choices. Photo Credit: Alianza por la Salud Alimentaria

From vaccination efforts to the economic fallout of the coronavirus pandemic to the effects of climate change, global leaders face many challenges. Perhaps just as grave of an issue — but one that’s gotten less time in the spotlight — is the continued rise in obesity rates. The World Health Organization reports that worldwide obesity has nearly tripled since 1975.

As mayor of New York City, Mike Bloomberg championed policies to help improve diets, from banning trans fats in restaurants and requiring calorie counts to be posted in chain restaurants, to launching the green cart program to provide fresh produce around the city.

Today, Bloomberg Philanthropies’ food policy program works to raise public awareness around obesity and supports policies to promote healthier diets around the world. One country where our work has grown is Mexico, which has emerged as a leader in food policy.

In 2013, our partners in Mexico supported the passage of a one-peso per liter tax on sugary drinks, and was one of the first countries to do so. Robust evaluation of the tax showed that within two years of implementation, it was associated with a drop in sales of sugary drinks by almost 10%. Since that landmark tax, more than 30 countries, cities, and regions have implemented similar policies. More recently, in October of 2020, Mexico implemented a front-of-package warning label regulation, requiring foods and beverages that exceed certain thresholds for calories, sugar, salt, trans fat, and saturated fat to carry warning labels.

On this episode, recorded in late 2020, Kristine Momanyi of the Bloomberg Philanthropies food policy team joins Ana Larrañaga, ​the Advocacy Coordinator at ContraPESO, a civil society organization that works to prevent noncommunicable diseases in Mexico, and Simón Barquera, the Director of the Nutrition and Health Research Center at the National Institute for Public Health in Mexico, to discuss the significance of the country’s front-of-package warning labels. This is the third and final episode in a three-part mini series around food policy.

You can listen to the podcast and past episodes in the following ways:

For more from our food policy mini series, listen to: