It is urgent to regulate ultra-processed products that cause damage to health

It is urgent to adopt strict measures against the ultra-processed products industry. Marion Nestlé, one of the most recognized representatives of the food sector in the world, in a public conversation with Alejandro Calvillo, director of El Poder del Consumidor and Julieta Ponce, director of the Food Orientation Center, spoke about its importance.

Regulations related to the food industry, such as warning labels in Mexico, are considered a starting point for governments to take action and limit the marketing of unhealthy foods.

According to experts, a large number of studies have been conducted since 2009 that have provided complete and convincing scientific evidence that processed foods cause diseases such as obesity, diabetes, and heart disease, cardiovascular disease, cancers and other diseases.

Why is it the government's obligation to inform the public about the risks associated with the consumption of ultra-processed products?

"There is a system designed so that people consume more and more ultra-processed products, the industry is not a public health agency, they are multinational business companies and their job is to ensure profits, they are not interested in public health. They have made us believe that it is our decision to consume their products, however it is impossible to have that power of choice when we find ourselves surrounded by ultra-processed products and our tastes have been altered by them. Therefore, it is important that those in government positions generate strong regulations towards the industry of these products.".

Marion commented that these types of companies always demand to be included in public policy discussions, which should not be allowed. Their obligation would be to pay for the externalities caused by their ultra-processed products and prevent them from being marketed to girls and boys.

The food scientist and activist, author of classic books such as “Food Politics”, “Soda Politics” and “What to Eat”, among many others, shared that just a few decades ago the industry was concerned about the well-being of the community among those who They operate in an area. The highly competitive environment, since the 1980s, has forced the industry to change and place more emphasis on profits generated and reporting obligations to shareholders.

Against ultra-processed foods: grow and cook again

Marion said one way to counter the ultra-processed industry's strategies is to get people back in the kitchen and start growing food, and to develop public policies that include food gardens in schools.

Regarding the food situation in schools, he commented that “In Mexico there are no universal school meals, compared to the United States where this type of system does exist. A proposal to address this issue is the possibility of having a community kitchen, in which people from the school community can get involved. The more I hear about the situation in the schools, the more concerned I am. This is an excellent opportunity to make politics that can make a big difference.".

Julieta Ponce and Alejandro Calvillo say there are examples of schools located in extremely poor areas of Mexico that have implemented healthy eating initiatives in schools, opening kitchens and even growing vegetables.

Finally, Marion commented on the future of nutrition and said that dietitian education will continue to focus on nutrients, not foods, and not the level of processing of foods. She therefore points out that accountability continues to focus on individuals and not on the corporate activities and government policies that create the food environment.

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