Chile is the most obese nation in South America, with nearly 10 percent of children under 5 overweight. | Photo: Reuters
“The 'meal' as it is today is not 'happy,' from the point of view of critical nutritionists,” said Chile's Health Ministry.
Chile's government is banning the famous Kinder Surprise Egg and the McDonald's Happy Meal, among other food products, as part of an effort to combat obesity, it was announced Wednesday.
The move is meant to set an example for the world, said Senator Guido Girardi, a medical doctor who introduced the authorizing legislation in Congress in order to launch “a crusade against deceiving propaganda mainly directed toward children.”
Kinder Surprise Eggs and Happy Meals have a “commercial hook” for kids and contain “high levels of salt, sugar and saturated fat,” Tito Pozarro of the Chilean Health Ministry told ADN radio.
“The 'meal' as it is today is not 'happy,' from the point of view of critical nutritionists,” he added. "If McDonald’s wishes to promote a healthier product, then it could be allowed to do so."
President Michelle Bachelet, a pediatrician herself, has vowed to tackle the issue of obesity in Chile. The country ranks first in South America in terms of obesity, according to a 2015 report by the World Health Organization, with over 32 percent of women and 23 percent of men affected.
In terms of childhood obesity, Chile has the second worst record in the region, with almost 10 percent of children under 5 considered overweight, according to a government estimate, and 30 percent of children under 7, according to the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization.
Obesity is a condition where a person has accumulated so much body fat that it might have a negative effect on their health. If a person's bodyweight is at least 20% higher than it should be, he or she is considered obese.