Wednesday, December 6, 2023

More states follow Oaxaca’s lead and move to ban junk food sales to kids

After Oaxaca banned the sale of junk food and sugary drinks to minors on August 5, at least 10 states and Mexico City have expressed an interest in following suit. 

Oaxaca’s new law, which imposes fines and even jail time for anyone — other than parents — who provide unhealthy packaged foods to children under the age of 18, effectively putting junk food in the same category as alcohol and cigarettes.

The measure is seeing support from across Mexico, and across party lines.

A day after the law was approved in Oaxaca, the governor of Tabasco, Adán Augusto López, stated that he would present a similar initiative, although he has yet to do so.

“We must return as much as possible to [eating] traditional food, and we must start with the children so that they are educated,” López said.

In Colima, the Morena party put forward a bill in Congress banning not just the sale of foods high in fat, sodium or sugar to children, but also the advertising of such products in schools. 

On August 10, Chihuahua jumped on board with an initiative New Alliance Deputy René Frías Bencomo, a former teacher, presented to Congress.

“It is intended that the sellers and vendors of these products receive administrative sanctions in case of incurring any fault, leaving the responsibility for the consumption of said products in the hands of parents and guardians,” Frías said. “It is alarming that Mexico ranks first in childhood obesity worldwide and second in obesity in adults. At the national level, Chihuahua is in first place in childhood obesity,” he wrote in his proposal.

Nuevo León’s Congressional Health Commission and members of the Morena party are working on a series of separate initiatives addressing junk food which would amend the state health law, a law on children’s rights and the law to prevent obesity. 

“It is more expensive for the state to invest in hospitals and drugs than in prevention. We are not saying that the products are going to end, no one says that, but rather that minors do not consume these products, and they are not easily within their reach,” Deputy Luis Armando Torres stated. 

The health commission is also seeking to limit the advertising of junk food.

Mexico City Mayor Claudia Sheinbaum confirmed that a proposal similar to the one approved in Oaxaca is being considered for the nation’s capital, where six out of 10 children are overweight or obese.

Lawmakers in Hidalgo, Sonora, Guanajuato, Puebla, Baja California Sur and Guerrero are also considering following suit, as is Tamaulipas where support for such an initiative has crossed party lines, receiving the backing of both National Action Party (PAN) and Morena representatives.

Federal legislators from four different political parties planned to propose a nationwide ban today on the sale and marketing of junk food to children.

Source: Milenio (sp), Animal Político (sp), Excélsior (sp), BCS Noticias (sp)

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