Colombia

Colombia faces high and rising prevalence of obesity and diabetes, with a large proportion of calories in the modern Colombian diet coming from ultra-processed foods. Unhealthy dietary patterns are a major cause of mortality and disability-adjusted life-years there. Colombia also has strong consumer advocacy and legal groups very focused on constitutional rights of children and supporting healthy eating as a major pathway to enhance the health of all.

In July 2021, the Colombian government passed Ley Comida Chatarra (The Junk Food Law), which mandates front-of-package labeling. We have collaborated with our research partners in Colombia to conduct experiments to inform the design of these labels. Our experimental studies have found that octagonal-shaped labels (like those used in Chile, Peru, Mexico, and soon in Argentina and Venezuela) are the most effective, and that warning labels outperform other label designs (Nutri-Score and Guideline Daily Amounts) among Colombians. The law’s regulatory norms, including final label design, are expected to be announced by the Ministry of Health by July, 2022.

Findings from our experiments to determine the strongest front-of-package label designs in Colombia. Read Study 1 here and more about Study 2 here.

Policies

Ley 2120 | Passed July 30, 2021

Front-of-package warning labels

Law 2120, commonly referred to as the "junk food law," will require front-of-package warning labels to appear on ultra-processed foods and beverages that exceed the maximum content of sodium, sugar, saturated fats, trans fats, or artificial sweeteners set by the Colombian Ministry of Health and Social Protection. The Ministry has one year from the law's passage to determine these nutritional criteria and other details of the regulation.

Read law in Spanish

In-Country Research Partner

In-Country Team Leads

Resources

  • Front-of-package labeling

    Map FOP Labels ThumbnailGlobal maps showing mandatory and voluntary front-of-package labeling schemes used in countries around the world. Includes map highlighting countries with front-of-package warning label policies.

    Updated August 2022

    August 2022: Added Argentina label designs (implemented August 20, 2022); corrected UK traffic light label image

    July 2022 addition: Canada (mandatory warning label law passed)

    February 2022 additions: Argentina (mandatory warning label law passed); Singapore (hybrid mandatory/voluntary Nutri-Grade label passed); Venezuela (mandatory octagonal warning label passed); existing voluntary labels in China, Indonesia, South Africa, Zambia, Zimbabwe

Publications

  • Impact of nutrient warning labels on choice of ultra-processed food and drinks high in sugar, sodium, and saturated fat in Colombia: A randomized controlled trial
    Authors: Mercedes Mora-Plazas, Isabella Carolyn Aida Higgins, Luis Fernando Gomez, Marissa Hall, Maria Fernanda Parra, Maxime Bercholz, Nandita Murukutla, Lindsey Smith Taillie
    Published in: PLOS ONE, February 11, 2022 view full text

  • Claims on ready-to-eat cereals: Are those with claims healthier?
    Authors: María Parra-Murillo, Caitlin M. Lowery, Luis F. Gómez, Mercedes Mora-Plazas, Lindsey Smith Taillie, and Francesca R. Dillman Carpentier
    Published in: Frontiers in Nutrition | Nutrition Epidemiology, November 26, 2021 view full text

  • Extent and nutritional quality of foods and beverages to which children are exposed in Colombian TV food advertising
    Authors: Alcides Velasquez, Mercedes Mora-Plazas, Luis Fernando Gómez, Lindsey Smith Taillie, Francesca R. Dillman Carpentier
    Published in: Public Health Nutrition, March 2021 view full text

  • Reformulation of packaged foods and beverages in the Colombian food supply
    Authors: Caitlin M. Lowery, Mercedes Mora-Plazas, Luis Fernando Gómez, Barry M. Popkin, Lindsey Smith Taillie
    Published in: Nutrients, October 24, 2020 view full text

  • Designing an effective front-of-package warning label for food and drinks high in added sugar, sodium, or saturated fat in Colombia: An online experiment
    Authors: Lindsey Smith Taillie, Marissa G. Hall, Luis Fernando Gómez, Isabella Higgins, Maxime Bercholz, Nandita Murukutla, Mercedes Mora-Plazas
    Published in: Nutrients, October 13, 2020 view full text

  • Nutrition quality of packaged foods in Bogotá, Colombia: A comparison of two nutrient profile models
    Authors: Mercedes Mora-Plazas, Luis F. Gómez, Donna R. Miles, Dianna C. Parra, Lindsey S. Taillie
    Published in: Nutrients, May 4 2019 view full text

  • Sugary drinks taxation, projected consumption and fiscal revenues in Colombia: Evidence from a QUAIDS model
    Authors: Juan C. Caro, Shu Wen Ng, Ricardo Bonilla, Jorge Tovar, Barry M. Popkin
    Published in: PLOS ONE, December 20 2017 view full text view full text

  • A research agenda to guide progress on childhood obesity prevention in Latin America
    Authors: Kline L, Jones-Smith J, Jaime Miranda J, Pratt M, Reis RS, Juan A. Rivera, Sallis JF, Barry M. Popkin.
    Published in: Obesity Reviews, July 2017 view full text

  • Nutrition status of children in Latin America
    Authors: Corvalán C, Garmendia ML, Jones-Smith J, Lutter CK, Miranda JJ, Lilia S. Pedraza, Barry M. Popkin, Ramirez-Zea M, Salvo D, Stein AD.
    Published in: Obesity Reviews, July 2017 view full text