Food guides: a strategy to reduce the consumption of ultra-processed foods and prevent obesity

Bortolini et al.

Obesity is a serious public health problem whose increase has been associated with the growing consumption of ultra-processed foods in several world regions, including Latin America. Food guides are official guidelines used to promote healthy eating habits and may serve as a tool to prevent obesity. Brazil was the first country to adopt the level of processing to categorize food items and make recommendations based on these categories in its food guides. Thus, the objective of the present article is to share the Brazilian experience with incorporating processed food recommendations as official guidelines and with the development of food guides. In the development of Brazilian food guides, the Ministry of Health emphasized a collective construction, with participation and discussion of contents by strategic stakeholders. The process was refined in the Food Guide for Brazilian Children below 2 Years of Age, with establishment of a management committee and a political monitoring committee, public call for participation by researchers and health care professionals, and input workshops with key stakeholders to define scope. The validation process relied on additional input workshops with key stakeholders, in addition to workshops held in all Brazilian states for debate and mobilization for online public consultation. Highlights of this learning process included the involvement of key stakeholders and the importance of transparency across all steps of development and validation of food guides.

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