On January 7, 2020, the national government announced the updated list of products included in the “Care Price” program, which includes 310 articles of various consumer categories. We analyze the program especially considering the lack of concordance between the choice of food and beverages and the current degree of malnutrition in our country, led by overweight and obesity.
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The new care price list includes more sweet cookies than whole grains. It contains only one class of legumes, numerous options of sugary and alcoholic drinks, table sugar. Only four vegetables and one type of fruit, cuts of meat with high fat content and products derived from it highly processed as medallions of industrial meats and sausages. It also offers yogurts and dairy desserts with high sugar content and highly processed industrial broths, mainly exceeded in sodium.
This program includes various products included in the basic food basket, whose structure dates from information provided by the National Survey of Household Expenditures (ENGHo) 1996/97, re-validated with the consumption pattern thrown by the same 2004/05 survey . This basket, although it reflects eating patterns of the Argentine population, reinforces the consumption of less healthy and strongly entrenched foods at family tables today.
These types of economic public policies, due to the nature of their impact, also form part of the food policies. In this regard, they should be planned and designed while integrating the standards proposed for healthy eating by human rights organizations and recognized international institutions such as the World Health Organization (WHO), the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) and Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO).
In line with these recommendations, it is necessary to encourage the consumption of whole grains and legumes, as well as fruits and vegetables, since they are the foods with the lowest consumption in our country despite their high nutritional quality. Also contribute to increase the consumption of lean fish and meats before highly processed meat products and also stimulate the consumption of drinking water instead of soda and excessively sugary juices.
The “care prices” program, as well as its previous versions, does not respect in any way the guidelines that organizations such as PAHO, WHO and FAO are recommending in order to reduce the current epidemic of overweight and obesity that leaps and bounds grows. Currently in our country, according to the Second National Survey of Nutrition and Health (2019), 67.9% of the adult population is overweight as well as 41.4% of the child population.
Likewise, these price agreements grant a preponderant role to the ultraprocessed products industry in the definition of food policies. The State, understanding the alarming panorama of excess weight in our population, must regulate based on scientific evidence and boost the consumption of quality food, while discouraging the consumption of unhealthy products.
In this way, policies must be thought of in an integral manner, even when the “Care Price” program is intended to contain the inflationary process and reduce its impact. As the doctor Luis María Delupi maintains, it is about:
“… A purely economic measure that arises from the Ministry of Economy, not that of health and that seeks to put an anchor price on most of the“ foods ”chosen by most Argentines and that are reflected in the basic family basket, seeking Resolve the emergency from the economic. But it is far from being a stimulus to the consumption of healthy and nutritious foods. ”
Concluding on the basis of all the above, it is stated that this policy promotes the consumption of foods rich in fats, sugars, sodium and refined flours; poor in vitamins, minerals and fiber and of very poor nutritional quality. It thus becomes less convenient and less accessible to consume real, quality food, without packaging, with few ingredients and nutrients. So, what can we demand from healthy habits and customs to a population whose consumption is strongly violated by an unfavorable environment when it comes to accessing and choosing healthier options?