Mexico weighs down on rising obesity crisis with seizure of Kellogg’s cartoon-festooned cereals

By Gill Hyslop contact

- Last updated on GMT

Mexico has seized 380,000 boxes of Kellogg’s cereal under new marketing laws. Pic: Kellogg's
Mexico has seized 380,000 boxes of Kellogg’s cereal under new marketing laws. Pic: Kellogg's

Related tags: Mexico, Kellogg's, Childhood obesity, marketing ban, sugary breakfast cereals

Mexican officials have seized 380,000 boxes of Kellogg’s cereals that feature cartoon mascots, which are in violation of recent laws preventing the marketing of allegedly ‘unhealthy’ products to children.

The law banning marketing ploys like cartoon mascots to entice children was first passed in 2018 in Mexico, but only recently went into effect.

The boxes of Corn Flakes and Special K were removed from 75 sales outlets across the country, with a vast majority being seized from a warehouse just outside Mexico City.

The cereal boxes also reportedly did not clearly list the required nutritional information on calories, fats, salt or sugar, or feature the proper warning signs.

A weighty issue

The health of its population is becoming an increasingly important area of concern for officials.

According to a study by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, Mexico is the second most obese country in the world.​ The weight issue is particularly prevalent among kids, steeply rising with age from below 10% below the age of four to almost 40% among teens.

Another study by researchers at Imperial College London analysed data from 200 countries and found the mean body mass index (BMI) of Mexicans’ saw the steepest rate globally.

In 1985, Mexican girls aged 19 had a mean BMI of 20.7 and ranked 155th among their peers. By 2019, it had risen to 24.2 and ranked 19th. Boys followed the same trend but less dramatically.

Meanwhile, diet-related diseases have also sky-rocketed, with 8.6 million Mexican adults (10.3% of the population) suffering from diabetes and 15.2 million adults (18.4%) from high blood pressure in 2018. This was recently underscored by a high death rate during the pandemic.

Banned

Faced with an already overburdened public health care system, the Mexican government promulgated a number of measures to decrease its nation’s consumption of ‘junk food’.

In 2014, the country banned the TV advertising of these goods at times when most of the audience was made up of kids under the age of 13. The legislation was estimated to impact 40% of television advertising for beverages, candy and snacks. Kids watching two hours of TV a day purportedly viewed 10,200 fewer ads for ‘unhealthy’ goods than before the legislation was enacted.

Several regional lawmakers have also put measures in place, with states like Oaxaca banning the sale of sugar-sweetened drinks and high-calorie snacks to children. Those outlets found to breach the rules could face a fine or a potential closure.

Kellogg's responded to our request for comment.

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