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How Media Helped Build the Case for Front-of-Package Warning Labels in Brazil


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Case Study

A Strategic Media Campaign to Promote the Public Consultation

Brazil has seen a massive rise in obesity rates in recent years, with almost 1 in 5 Brazilians now affected. This alarming increase is largely due to a shift from traditional diets to ultra-processed foods high in salt, fat, and sugar.


To tackle this public health crisis, Brazil’s Health Surveillance Agency (ANVISA) brought together different stakeholders, including civil society groups and the food industry, to develop a new food labeling system. The goal was to provide clearer information to help consumers make healthier choices.


However, there was disagreement on the best approach. Public health officials and civil society partners pushed for strong front-of-package warning labels about the risks of ultra-processed foods. The food industry, on the other hand, opposed these efforts and favored a less effective system without explicit warnings.


The Brazilian Institute of Consumer Rights (IDEC) and other civil society groups under the Brazilian Alliance for Healthy and Adequate Food ran communication campaigns promoting effective labeling. Their efforts paid off in 2020 when ANVISA approved a model with front-of-package warning labels.


Key to this victory was driving huge public participation in a 2019 consultation to choose the labeling model. The groups ran targeted digital campaigns urging people to voice their support for warning labels on the ANVISA website. The unprecedented response helped select the warning label approach.


This case study highlights how strategic communication efforts by civil society, with support from Vital Strategies and Bloomberg Philanthropies, successfully engaged the public and paved the way for an important policy win against obesity and unhealthy diets in Brazil.


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How Media Helped Build the Case for Front-of-Package Warning Labels in Brazil