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Gaceta Sanitaria

Print version ISSN 0213-9111


ROYO-BORDONADA, Miguel Ángel et al. Food policies to prevent obesity and the main non-transmissible diseases in Spain: where there's a will there's a way. Gac Sanit [online]. 2019, vol.33, n.6, pp.584-592.  Epub Jan 27, 2020. ISSN 0213-9111.


In Spain, one third of all children and two-thirds of adults suffer from excess weight, a condition that generates a direct excess medical cost of 2000 million Euros. Obesogenic food environments cause obesity by promoting the consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages and ultra-processed foods. Accordingly, we propose five priority policies capable of reversing the epidemic of obesity and related non-communicable diseases through the creation of healthy food environments.

The power (PODER in Spanish) of food policies

Advertising (Publicidad): regulation of unhealthy food and drink advertisements carried by all media and targeted at children, and prohibition of sponsorships of congresses, conferences or sports events and endorsements by scientific associations or health professionals. Supply (Oferta): promotion of a 100% healthy supply of goods on sale in vending machines sited at educational, health and sports centres. Demand (Demanda): levying a tax of at least 20% on sugar-sweetened beverages, accompanied by subsidies or reduced taxes on healthy foods and availability of drinking water free of charge at all public venues and areas. Labelling (Etiquetado): effective application of the Nutri-Score through the use of incentives, regulation and public-tender mechanisms. Reformulation (Reformulación): revising and redrawing reformulation agreements with the industry, setting more ambitious goals and mandatory compliance.

A final thought

These five proposed interventions, all of which have been successfully applied in other countries, will serve to raise population awareness and have a positive impact on health and the economy, through reducing the health care costs of obesity and enhancing work productivity. These measures should form part of a wide-ranging transformation of the food system, with agri-food policies that foster the sustainable production of healthy foods.

Keywords : Food policy; Taxes; Food advertising; Food labelling; Obesity; Non-transmissible diseases.

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