Public health and the ultra-processed food and drink products industry: corporate political activity of major transnationals in Latin America and the Caribbean

Public Health Nutr. 2019 Jul;22(10):1898-1908. doi: 10.1017/S1368980019000417. Epub 2019 Mar 12.


Objective: To identify examples of the 'corporate political activity' (CPA) of the industry producing and selling ultra-processed food and drink products (UPP) in Latin America and the Caribbean.

Design: Searches were conducted on the national websites and social media accounts of large industry actors. Coding was deductive and based on a framework for classifying the CPA of the food industry.

Setting: Fifteen countries in Latin America and the Caribbean.ParticipantsTwelve members of the International Food and Beverage Alliance (IFBA) and major trade associations and chambers of commerce in the region.

Results: During the current pilot study, more than 200 examples of CPA were found in Latin America and the Caribbean. The UPP industry lobbied governments during the development of national health policies. UPP companies tried to build alliances with health professionals, but also with communities where they operated and with policy makers. In addition, the UPP industry fought against regulation in court and proposed weaker alternatives to public health policies, such as self-regulation.

Conclusions: Food systems in low- and middle-income countries, including in Latin America and the Caribbean, are increasingly penetrated by the UPP industry. These countries are at risk of being influenced by the CPA strategies described in the present study. There is a need to further identify, monitor and evaluate the impact of these CPA strategies on public health policies and public opinion in the region, in order to develop mechanisms to effectively prevent such interference.

Keywords: Corporate political activity; Food industry; Non-communicable diseases; Policy; Ultra-processed foods.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Caribbean Region
  • Commerce / statistics & numerical data*
  • Fast Foods / supply & distribution
  • Food-Processing Industry / statistics & numerical data*
  • Health Policy / trends
  • Humans
  • Latin America
  • Pilot Projects
  • Political Activism*
  • Professional Corporations / organization & administration*
  • Public Health / trends*