Mexico restricts soft drink TV ads to fight obesity
- 16 July 2014
- From the section Latin America & Caribbean
Mexico is restricting television advertising for high-calorie food and soft drinks, as part of its campaign against obesity, the government says.
Such ads will be banned with immediate effect on terrestrial and cable TV between 14:30 and 19:30 on weekdays and between 07:30 and 19:30 at weekends.
Restrictions will also be imposed on similar ads shown at the cinema.
Seventy percent of adults and 30% of children in Mexico are obese or overweight, official figures suggest.
Overall, 40% of commercials for soft drinks, confectionery and chocolates will disappear from TV, in favour of products which "meet nutritional standards", the health ministry is quoted as saying.
By James Gallagher, Health editor, BBC News website
Mexico is going further than any other country in restricting advertising.
The UK, Norway and Quebec province in Canada, all have bans on advertising junk food in children's television.
However, this has not stopped the adverts appearing in more popular "family" programming.
So the fizzy drinks and greasy meals are still there in the programmes which attract the biggest audiences.
Banning junk food at certain times of day means advertisers will not be able to work around the plans.
With this policy and the soda tax, Mexico is becoming a frontline in the war against obesity.
If Mexico can do what no other nation has done and reverse the obesity epidemic, then the rest of the world will be paying attention.
As an additional measure, from 2015, manufacturers will be made to label the sugar, fat and saturated fat content on their food and drink products.
Mexicans have the highest incidence of diabetes among the 34 member states of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).
They are also the world's heaviest consumers of sugary drinks, at 163 litres per year, and their diet is rich in fried food.
Health experts estimate the nation's weight problems will cost the public health care system $11.7bn (£7bn) by 2017.
Last year, the Mexican government introduced taxes on high-calorie foods and drinks, as part of its obesity prevention strategy.