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To explore adolescents' views about the foods they consume and to identify their ideas about strategies to encourage healthier eating habits.
Individual questionnaires based on open-ended questions and group discussions (6-8 participants) were used to address the objectives. Data were analyzed using content analysis based on deductive-inductive coding.
Montevideo and its metropolitan area (Uruguay, Latin America).
102 adolescents (aged between 11 and 15 years old, 52% female) recruited at two educational institutions.
Adolescents reported frequently consuming ultra-processed products and fast food although they were perceived as bad for their health, whereas they reported an infrequent consumption of fruits and vegetables. Multifaceted strategies to promote healthy eating habits emerged from adolescents' accounts, including public awareness campaigns, nutrition education programs, nutrition label standards and regulations, and changes in food availability and affordability.
Results from the present work suggest that co-creation with adolescents may be an effective way to inform the development of strategies to promote healthier eating habits. The strategies suggested by adolescents were mainly focused on behaviour change communication, who emphasized the importance of social media and the involvement of celebrities and influencers. The need for educational and communication strategies to raise awareness of the social and environmental drivers of eating patterns among adolescents was identified.
To explore the use of references to the COVID-19 pandemic as part of the marketing strategies used on Facebook to promote ultra-processed products.
A search for Facebook accounts of ultra-processed products was performed using a master list of products commercialised in two online supermarkets in Uruguay. For each of the identified Facebook accounts, all the content posted from the confirmation of the first cases of COVID-19 in Uruguay, on 14 March 2020, until 1 July 2020 was recorded. Posts including mentions to COVID-19, social distancing measures or their consequences were identified and analysed using content analysis.
Uruguay, Latin America.
A total of 135 Facebook accounts were identified, which generated a total of 1749 posts related to ultra-processed products, from which 35 % included references to COVID-19. The majority of the posts included references to prevention measures. Approximately one-third of the posts included proposals of activities to do at home, most of which were linked to a healthy lifestyle. Tips for coping with quarantine and descriptions of the charitable work undertaken by brands were also identified.
Results from the present work provide evidence that industries of ultra-processed products have taken advantage of the COVID-19 pandemic to promote their products, create positive associations with the brands and improve their image as part of their digital marketing strategies.
To explore Uruguayan paediatricians’ personal recommendations about complementary feeding and to assess if they are aligned with current guidelines and scientific evidence.
A questionnaire composed of open-ended questions was used to explore foods recommended to start complementary feeding, foods regarded as the most important during the first meals, recommendations for delayed introduction of foods and foods that should be avoided. Reasons underlying the recommendations were also explored.
Montevideo, the capital city of Uruguay (Latin America).
A total of 212 paediatricians were recruited during a National Pediatrics Conference, organised by the Uruguayan Society of Pediatrics.
The recommendations about complementary feeding provided by paediatricians to parents and caregivers in Uruguay seemed not to be fully aligned with the guidelines provided by the Ministry of Health. Paediatricians recommend a rigid food introduction sequence, characterised by the early introduction of soft pureed vegetables and fruits, followed by meat and the delayed introduction of allergenic foods. Food diversity and the concept of ultra-processed were not frequently identified in the responses.
Results stress the importance of developing educational and communication approaches targeted at paediatricians to contribute to the uptake of updated recommendations regarding complementary feeding.
The information displayed on the packages of feeding bottles and teats commercialised in Montevideo (Uruguay) was analysed using content analysis with the goal of identifying key marketing practices that may discourage breast-feeding.
The study was conducted as part of the periodic assessment performed by the Uruguayan government to monitor the marketing of breast milk substitutes. All the feeding bottles and teats sold in forty-four retail outlets selling breast milk substitutes were purchased. The information available on the packages was analysed using content analysis and descriptive statistics.
A total of 197 feeding bottles and 71 teats were found. The majority of the packages included information to enable caregivers to adequately use the products, including recommended age, instructions on how to use the products and instructions on the use of hygienic practices. However, the packages frequently included information that implied that bottle feeding was equivalent to breast-feeding, particularly from a physiological perspective, or that idealised product use. Idealisations included ability to reduce colic, improvements in the feeding experience and improvements in children’s health, well-being and development. Statements on the superiority of breast-feeding were infrequent.
The results from the present work showed the high prevalence of marketing practices on the packages of feeding bottles and teats that may discourage breast-feeding. Stricter and more detailed regulations seem necessary to enable caregivers to make informed feeding decisions for infants.
To explore the conceptualisation of healthy food by citizens and how they judge the healthiness of ultra-processed foods.
Four focus groups were conducted using a semi-structured discussion guide. Focus group discussions were held about the concept of healthy food, what characterise a healthy product and healthiness perception of ultra-processed products. Transcripts of the focus groups were analysed following an inductive coding approach.
Uruguay, one of the Latin American countries with the highest prevalence of overweight and obesity.
Fifty-two adult Uruguayan participants, diverse in terms of gender, age, educational level and socio-economic status.
In agreement with previous studies on lay perceptions of healthy eating, the conceptualisation of healthy food was mainly focused on food characteristics. Although participants regarded lack of processing as a cue for healthiness, they did not categorise all ultra-processed products as unhealthy. Albeit some product categories were automatically regarded as unhealthy, participants considered that other categories could include healthy and unhealthy products. In such cases, they explicitly referred to several simplified cognitive strategies to judge whether an ultra-processed product is healthy or not. Results showed that participants tended to rely on simple cues, such as label design, nutrient claims, brand, price and country of origin as indicators of product healthiness.
Healthiness perception of ultra-processed products seems to be largely influenced by heuristics, which stresses the need to implement policies that make the potential negative effects of ultra-processed products salient.
To assess the effects of nutritional warnings during the first month after the date of full compliance by the food industry in Uruguay in terms of citizen awareness, self-reported use and ability to understand nutritional information.
The present work encompassed two online studies, conducted before (Study 1) and during the first month after the date of full compliance by the food industry (Study 2). An after-only design was used to assess awareness of the policy, exposure to nutritional warnings on food packages and self-reported use of warnings for making purchase decisions in Study 2. An after-only with control group experimental design was used to assess the effect of nutritional warnings on understanding of nutrition information in Studies 1 and 2.
Uruguay, one of the Latin American countries, that has recently implemented nutritional warnings.
A non-probabilistic sample of 1772 participants was recruited using Facebook advertisements targeted at Uruguayan adult users.
High awareness and self-reported use of nutritional warnings during the first month after the date of full compliance in Uruguay were observed. In addition, the before and after comparison showed that the implementation of warnings increased citizens’ ability to use nutritional information to compare products and to identify products with excessive content of sugar, fat, saturated fat and sodium.
The current study confirms results from experimental studies and provides additional evidence to support the implementation of nutritional warnings as one of the public policies that can contribute to tackle obesity and non-communicable diseases.
Nutritional warnings have recently been suggested as a simplified front-of-pack nutrition labelling scheme to facilitate citizens’ ability to identify unhealthful products and discourage their consumption. However, citizens’ perspective on this policy is still under-researched. The objective of the present work was to study how citizens perceive nutritional warnings and to evaluate public support of this policy, with the goal of deriving recommendations for the design of policy measures accompanying the introduction of nutritional warnings.
An online survey with 1416 Uruguayan citizens, aged 18–75 years, 61 % female, was conducted. Participants had to answer a series of questions (open-ended and multiple-choice) related to their perception of warnings as a front-of-package nutrition labelling scheme.
Participants showed a positive attitude towards nutritional warnings, which were regarded as easy to understand and to identify on food packages. The majority of respondents emphasized that they would take nutritional warnings into account when making their food choices, stating that they would allow them to make informed choices and, consequently, to increase the quality of their diet and their health status. Health motivation appeared as a crucial driver for taking nutritional warnings into consideration.
A high level of public support for nutritional warnings was observed. Responses can be used to derive a range of recommendations for a policy mix that should synergistically support the introduction of nutritional warnings and encourage citizens to take them into account when making their food purchases.
Warnings are a new directive front-of-pack (FOP) nutrition labelling scheme that highlights products with high content of key nutrients. The design of warnings influences their ability to catch consumers’ attention and to clearly communicate their intended meaning, which are key determinants of their effectiveness. The aim of the present work was to evaluate the influence of design features of warnings as a FOP nutrition labelling scheme on perceived healthfulness and attentional capture.
Five studies with a total of 496 people were carried out. In the first study, the association of colour and perceived healthfulness was evaluated in an online survey in which participants had to rate their perceived healthfulness of eight colours. In the second study, the influence of colour, shape and textual information on perceived healthfulness was evaluated using choice-conjoint analysis. The third study focused on implicit associations between two design features (shape and colour) on perceived healthfulness. The fourth and fifth studies used visual search to evaluate the influence of colour, size and position of the warnings on attentional capture.
Perceived healthfulness was significantly influenced by shape, colour and textual information. Colour was the variable with the largest contribution to perceived healthfulness. Colour, size and position of the warnings on the labels affected attentional capture.
Results from the experiments provide recommendations for the design of warnings to identify products with unfavourable nutrient profile.
Warnings have recently been proposed as a new type of directive front-of-pack (FOP) nutrition labelling scheme to flag products with high content of key nutrients. In the present work, this system was compared with the two most common FOP nutrition labelling schemes (Guideline Daily Amounts (GDA) and traffic-light system) in terms of goal-directed attention, influence on perceived healthfulness and ability to differentiate between products.
Goal-directed attention to FOP labels was evaluated using a visual search task in which participants were presented with labels on a computer screen and were asked to indicate whether labels with high sodium content were present or absent. A survey with 387 participants was also carried out, in which the influence of FOP labels on perceived healthfulness and ability to identify the healthful alternative were evaluated.
Warnings improved consumers’ ability to correctly identify a product with high content of a key nutrient within a set of labels compared with GDA and received the highest goal-directed attention. In addition, products with high energy, saturated fat, sugar and/or sodium content that featured warnings on the label were perceived as less healthful than those featuring the GDA or traffic-light system. Warnings and the traffic-light system performed equally well in the identification of the most healthful product.
Results from the present work suggest that warnings have potential as directive FOP nutrition labels to improve consumer ability to identify unhealthful products and highlight advantages compared with the traffic-light system.
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