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A new campaign demands junk food ban in Mexican schools

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A ban on serving junk food in Mexico’s schools, as well as ad campaigns that promote such eating to children, was proposed on World Food Day. 

The Alianza por la Salud Alimentaria launched the Our Children Come First campaign Saturday.

Regulations for junk food in schools have been in place since 2010, but have not been carried out by institutions. Photo: Courtesy

“School environments are ideal places to promote healthy eating habits that benefit the health of children and adolescents, as well as the planet,” said the alliance.

Junk food consumption has increased along with the obesity epidemic, which is related to unhealthy eating habits and is one of the critical risk factors for chronic non-communicable diseases, according to the Pan American Health Organization.

Tania Ramírez, executive director of Red por los Derechos de la Infancia (Redim), detailed that in 2010 a regulation for the sale and consumption of food and beverages in Mexican schools was carried out. Sanctions for non-compliance emerged four years later.

In 2013 legislators approved an 8% tax on junk food, but it continues to be one of the most popular choices among the population. Photo: Cuartoscuro

The regulation established which products were allowed to be sold in institutions, depending on calories and sugar levels. However, reports during the 2018-2019 school cycle showed that more than 97% of school campuses do not comply with the guidelines.

Representatives from Redim note that the consumption of junk food is especially dangerous as obesity contributes to mortality rates from chronic diseases and infections such as COVID-19.

The OPS noted that these products cause plastic pollution of the planet, also contributing to greenhouse gas emissions throughout their life cycle.

“Until before the pandemic, elementary schools in our country were obesogenic environments. Of the total food supply, 51% were ultra-processed products and 63% of the beverages were sugary. At the same time, there was limited availability of fruits, vegetables, legumes, whole grains, and free and safe plain water,” said Alejandra Contreras, food health campaign coordinator at El Poder del Consumidor.

They also warned that during this health emergency and due to digital platforms for online education, children have been exposed to more advertising content.

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