Using evidence-informed policies to tackle overweight and obesity in Chile

    Rev. panam. salud pública; 41 (), 2017
    Publication year: 2017

    Overweight and obesity are a global epidemic with rates having risen to alarming levels in both developed and developing countries. Chile has been no exemption, with sharp increases in obesity prevalence, especially among school-age children. This paper describes the policy actions and strategies implemented to tackle this major public health concern in Chile over the last 10 years, and highlights the main challenges and nuances of the process. Chile has taken policy action that includes front-of-package labelling, advertising regulations, and school-food restrictions. New policies focus on the social determinants of health as they relate to food environments and people’s behavior. These actions are not only suitable to the current context in Chile, but are also supported by the best available scientific evidence. Moreover, the implementation of these policies has produced a broad debate involving public institutions and the food industry, with discussions issues ranging from property rights to trade barriers. Despite some differences among stakeholders, a valuable political consensus has been achieved, and several international organizations are eager to evaluate the impact of these pioneer initiatives in Latin America.