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Guatemala City, Guatemala

Chacon V.,Cardiovascular Surgery Unit of Guatemala | Letona P.,Cardiovascular Surgery Unit of Guatemala | Barnoya J.,Cardiovascular Surgery Unit of Guatemala | Barnoya J.,Washington University in St. Louis
BMC Public Health | Year: 2013

Background: Childhood overweight in Guatemala is now becoming a public health concern. Child-oriented marketing contributes to increase children's food preference, purchase and consumption. This study sought to assess the availability of child-oriented snack foods sold in school kiosks and convenience stores near public schools in Guatemala, to identify the marketing techniques used in child-oriented snack food packages and to classify the snacks as "healthy" or "less-healthy". Methods. We purchased all child-oriented snacks found in stores inside and within 200 square meters from four schools in an urban community. Snacks were classified as child-oriented if the package had any promotional characters, premium offers, children′s television/movie tie-ins, sports references, or the word "child". We used a checklist to assess child-oriented references and price. Snacks were classified as "healthy" or "less-healthy" according to the UK standards for the Nutritional Profiling Model. Results: We analyzed 106 packages found in 55 stores. The most commonly used technique was promotional characters (92.5%) of which 32.7% were brand-specific characters. Premium offers were found in 34% of packages and were mostly collectibles (50%). Most marketing techniques were located on the front and covered nearly 25% of the package surface. Median (interquartile range) price was US$ 0.19 (0.25). Nutrition labels were found in 91 (86%) packages and 41% had a nutrition related health claim. Most snacks (97.1%) were classified as "less-healthy". Conclusion: In Guatemala, the food industry targets children through several marketing techniques promoting inexpensive and unhealthy snacks in the school environment. Evidence-based policies restricting the use of promotional characters in unhealthy snack food packages need to be explored as a contributing strategy to control the obesity epidemic. © 2013 Chacon et al.; licensee BioMed Central Ltd. Source


Chacon V.,Cardiovascular Surgery Unit of Guatemala | Letona P.,Cardiovascular Surgery Unit of Guatemala | Villamor E.,University of Michigan | Barnoya J.,Cardiovascular Surgery Unit of Guatemala | Barnoya J.,Washington University in St. Louis
Critical Public Health | Year: 2015

Obesity in school-age children is emerging as a public health concern. Food marketing influences preferences and increases children’s requests for food. This study sought to describe the type of snack foods advertised to children in stores in and around public schools and assess if there is an association between child-oriented snack food advertising and proximity to schools. All food stores located inside and within a 200 square meter radius from two preschools and two primary schools were surveyed. We assessed store type, number, and type of snack food advertisements including those child-oriented inside and outside stores. We surveyed 55 stores and found 321 snack food advertisements. Most were on sweetened beverages (37%) and soft drinks (30%). Ninety-two (29%) were child-oriented. Atoles (100.0%), cereals (94.1%), and ice cream and frozen desserts (71.4%) had the greatest proportion of child-oriented advertising. We found more child-oriented advertisements in stores that were closer (<170 m) to schools compared with those farther away. In conclusion, the food industry is flooding the market, taking advantage of the lack of strict regulation in Guatemala. Child-oriented advertisements are available in almost all stores within a short walking distance from schools, exposing children to an obesogenic environment. © 2014 Taylor & Francis. Source

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