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Member Research & Reports

Member Research & Reports

UNC: Study Suggests Innovative Chilean Food Regulations Are Changing Food Perceptions, Norms, Behaviors

Food regulations targeted at reducing obesity make a positive impact on those most likely to purchase the family’s food – mothers.

A study conducted by researchers at Diego Portales University, University of Chile and University of North Carolina Gillings School of Global Public Health found that Chilean mothers understood and perceived the benefits of the country’s new policies aimed at combating childhood obesity — and that their awareness influenced their spending habits.

Dr. Lindsey Smith Taillie, assistant professor of nutrition at the UNC Gillings School, is a co-author of the paper, published Feb. 13 in the  International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity.

In Chile, high body mass index (BMI) and diet‐related risk factors are the country’s main causes of death, and one-quarter of schoolchildren and one-third of the adult population are obese. In 2016, to achieve better health outcomes, the Chilean government adopted comprehensive food regulation policies through front-of package labeling, marketing restrictions and school regulations.

In 2017, one year after announcement of the regulations, the research team conducted focus groups with mothers, who are primarily responsible for families’ food purchase decisions.

The study findings were overwhelmingly positive. All mothers in the focus groups understood the new regulations were instituted to combat childhood obesity, recognized that products with the most labels were less healthful choices, and perceived the school environment as more healthful than before.

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[Photo: Dr. Lindsey Smith Taillie]