More than one in four people in Chile regularly consume some sugar-sweetened beverages, according to research released last week by the Chilean Consumer Confederation. That translates to 94.6 million consumers — representing 17 percent of Chile’s population.

However, in the last few years, officials in the Andean nation have been taking steps to address the high consumption of sugary drinks, with a 2018 law banning sales of beverages with added sugar up to 32 grams, or 10 teaspoons. (And then following that up a year later with a new law mandating that the reduction in daily consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages reaches a reduction of 30 percent.)

While the law has not yet had a significant impact on Chilean consumption, figures released by the Chilean government indicate that consumption of sugary drinks has decreased in the country since its inception: the average government survey conducted in March 2017 revealed that 23.8 percent of respondents were consuming at least one sugary drink per day. By March 2018, the number had dropped to 24.2 percent.

And while consumption of sugary drinks has increased over the last two years, it’s still lower than in Chile’s neighboring country, Peru. According to a study published last week in Chile’s government-sponsored newspaper El Mercurio, consumption of sugary drinks rose just 1.6 percent between 2015 and 2017. (Coca-Cola is often touted as one of the leading sugary drink products in both countries.)

Despite this (presumably smaller) increase, Chile still lags behind other nations in neighboring South America — Argentina and Colombia each have obesity rates of between 30 percent and 32 percent, according to a recent report by the World Health Organization. While there are still many health concerns surrounding sugary drinks, the laws Chile has passed to address the problem of unhealthy consumption have been hailed as a success. But those studying the impact on sugar consumption are warning that Chile needs to take additional steps to address the addiction of several generations of Chileans to sugary drinks.

Read the full story at The New York Times.

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