Ultra-Processed Products Industry Uses Influencers to Reach Tico Children

    Childhood obesity is not a problem alien to Costa Ricans. According to a report published by the Organization Consumers in Action of Central America and the Caribbean (Consuacción)

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    Childhood obesity is not a problem alien to Costa Ricans. According to a report published by the Organization Consumers in Action of Central America and the Caribbean (Consuacción), a third of children under the age of six have this disease.

    RebecaSegreda, representative of the College of Nutrition Professionals of Costa Rica, confirmed the situation, indicating that there are currently many children with quite high obesity problems.

    “We see many eight-year-old children with diabetes problems, caused by poor nutritional education on the part of the family, added to the inadequate consumption of food for their age,” explained Dr. Segreda.

    Advertising on networks is related to food choices

    Strategies to achieve greater consumption of unhealthy products have diversified in recent years, with the aim of reaching children and young people.For example, companies use digital spaces: applications, cell phones, tablets, social networks, entertainment platforms, among other options that allow them to approach a young audience.

    The investigation “Stop focusing on us. Influencer marketing and advertising of unhealthy products aimed at children and young people in digital spaces”, made by the Healthy America Coalition (CLAS) and the Young Leaders Program, indicates that it has been shown that the marketing of ultra-processed products has been a determinant in food choices.

    For example, a review of studies determined that food advertising increased the energy intake of children and young people by 60 empty kcal, after being exposed to it for 4.4 minutes.

    According to the results, the advertising of ultra-processed products through an influencer on social networks promotes a greater consumption of what is being sold through the ad, a reaction that does not occur when advertising the intake of vegetables.

    Likewise, it was found that food choices are significantly related to food marketing, exactly, exposure to advertising of this type was associated with a 77% probability of choosing what was promoted, regardless of whether it is healthy or not.

    Regulation of advertising as a solution to childhood obesity

    For Dr. Segreda, it is important that the advertising of ultra-processed and unhealthy foods be regulated, especially when it comes to feeding children.”Being promoted by well-known people, children may believe that these foods are the best there is, without taking into consideration that they are high in sugar, fat, sodium and additives that can be dangerous or harmful to their health,” said the expert.

    Segreda added that it is extremely important to ensure that the products consumed by minors are adequate, so that they have good health and help them achieve optimal development and growth.

    Need for regulation

    Countries like Mexico and the United Kingdom have put regulations in place to protect the health of this population affected by marketing, since they are aware of the negative impact on health of frequent consumption of products with high sodium, sugar and fat.

    According to the CLAS and Young Leaders Program report, in 2020 Mexico implemented a reform to the General Health Law, which improved the nutritional labeling of food and beverages and eliminated children’s characters from packages with warning labels.

    In the case of the United Kingdom, London adopted a policy to restrict the advertising of unhealthy foods on public transport and in the vicinity of schools.It was also proposed to rearrange the position of the products in the supermarkets, so that the sugary ones were located on high shelves, far from the sight of the boys and girls; however, it received attacks from producers.

    To promote a better diet, Costa Rica has tried to implement frontal food labeling, the purpose of which is for the population to more easily identify excess sodium, sugars and fats in a product.

    Resonance Costa Rica
    At Resonance, we aspire to live in harmony with the natural world as a reflection of our gratitude for life. Visit and subscribe at Resonance Costa Rica Youtube Channel
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