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Mexico Plays the Heavy on Junk-Food Ads, Bars Commercials During Children's Programs

Amy Guthrie - The Wall Street Journal
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August 21, 2014

Under the guidelines for sugar content, Kellogg breakfast cereals like Froot Loops and Frosted Flakes (called Zucaritas in Mexico) - shouldn't be promoted during children's programs. (Mark Abramson/The Wall Street Journal)

Mexican authorities are restricting food marketing to children on television and in movie theaters, part of an attack plan against rising health problems as Mexicans get fatter.

The new limits, which became effective in mid-July, go far beyond any measures taken in the U.S. to restrict food advertising. With a third of children in Mexico overweight, and the country's entire population struggling with a high rate of Type 2 diabetes, the government of President Enrique Peña Nieto pitched the restrictions as a tough follow-on to the adoption this year of special taxes on sugary beverages and calorie-dense snacks.

"We're pioneers in Mexico when it comes to restrictions on publicity," said Álvaro Pérez, a commissioner at Mexican health protection agency Cofepris who helped establish the advertising parameters. "What we're looking for is an incentive for companies to reformulate their products so that they're healthier."

Peddlers of chocolate, candies, chips and soda can no longer promote their products on afternoon and weekend television time slots in Mexico for programs in which the vast majority of viewers are under the age of 12, or on the screen before children's movies in cinemas. Starting in January, sugary cereals, yogurts, cookies and cakes also will be blocked from those air times. Companies that break the ban could face fines of around $75,000 per spot that airs. Mexico joins a handful of countries, including Norway, that have placed limits on broadcast ads for children.

Read the rest at The Wall Street Journal

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