|Publisher||Public Library of Science (PLoS)|
In June 2016, the first phase of the Chilean Food Labelling and Advertising Law that mandated front-of-package warning labels and marketing restrictions for unhealthy foods and beverages was implemented. We assess foods and beverages reformulation after this initial implementation.
A data set with the 2015 to 2017 nutritional information was developed collecting the information at 2 time periods: preimplementation (T0: January-February 2015 or 2016; n = 4,055) and postimplementation (T1: January-February 2017; n = 3,025). Quartiles of energy and nutrients of concern (total sugars, saturated fats, and sodium, per 100 g/100 mL) and the proportion of products with energy and nutrients exceeding the cutoffs of the law (i.e., products "high in") were compared pre- and postimplementation of the law in cross-sectional samples of products with sales >1% of their specific food or beverage groups, according to the Euromonitor International Database; a longitudinal subsample (i.e., products collected in both the pre- and postimplementation periods, n = 1,915) was also analyzed. Chi-squared, McNemar tests, and quantile regressions (simple and multilevel) were used for comparing T0 and T1. Cross-sectional analysis showed a significant decrease (T0 versus T1) in the proportion of product with any "high in" (from 51% [95% confidence interval (CI) 49-52] to 44% [95% CI 42-45]), mostly in food and beverage groups in which regulatory cutoffs were below the 75th percentile of the nutrient or energy distribution. Most frequent reductions were in the proportion of "high in" sugars products (in beverages, milks and milk-based drinks, breakfast cereals, sweet baked products, and sweet and savory spreads; from 80% [95% CI 73-86] to 60% [95% CI 51-69]) and in "high in sodium" products (in savory spreads, cheeses, ready-to-eat meals, soups, and sausages; from 74% [95% CI 69-78] to 27% [95% CI 20-35]). Conversely, the proportion of products "high in" saturated fats only decreased in savory spreads (p < 0.01), and the proportion of "high in" energy products significantly decreased among breakfast cereals and savory spreads (both p < 0.01). Quantile analyses showed that most of the changes took place close to the cutoff values, with only few exceptions of overall left shifts in distribution. Longitudinal analyses showed similar results. However, it is important to note that the nonexperimental nature of this study does not allow to imply causality of these findings.
Our results show that, after initial implementation of the Chilean Law of Food Labelling and Advertising, there was a significant decrease in the amount of sugars and sodium in several groups of packaged foods and beverages. Further studies should clarify how food reformulation will impact dietary quality of the population.
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