Even though obesity is a growing global epidemic, Chile is the only country that has taken a series of steps to counter the aggressive marketing of unhealthy foods — and potentially to limit the harm these foods can do.

As part of a 2-year-old anti-obesity campaign, Chile is requiring foods high in sugar, salt, calories or saturated fat to carry warning labels resembling black-and-white stop signs. Chilean officials wanted a simple way to make it immediately clear to consumers which foods had been linked to obesity and other chronic disease. Other regulations include prohibiting foods with these warning labels from being served in schools or advertised to children.

The labels are changing behaviors. Nearly 40 percent of Chilean citizens say they use the symbols to help them decide what to buy, and many manufacturers have voluntarily begun to reformulate processed foods to have less sugar, salt and fat. Children are reportedly responding to the logos — a good sign in terms of raising awareness among the next generation of consumers. And studies are already underway to determine what the labels' effect may be on obesity.

Read the full article about the fight against obesity in Chile by Deborah Cohen at rand.org.