Fabio Gomes, PAHO/WHO Nutrition Advisor

Department of Noncommunicable Diseases and Mental Health

Dr Fabio Gomes is a Nutritionist, with a Masters in Population Studies and Social Research and a PhD in Public Health. He worked as a Ministry of Health Senior Officer in Brazil, for ten years, developing strategies to promote healthy eating practices in multiple settings; mobilising regulatory measures to reduce the demand for unhealthy products; and protecting health, food and nutrition public policies from interference of opposing commercial actors. As visiting scholar at the Department of Nutrition, Food Studies, and Public Health of New York University he studied corporations and related organizations’ products, practices and policies and their impact on food systems. He has worked advising and supporting UN agencies, governments, social movements, and professional, scientific and civil society organizations worldwide to promote food and nutrition security, regulate non-recommended products, and prevent conflicts of interest. Fabio is now the Regional Advisor on Nutrition and Physical Activity for the Americas at the Pan-American Health Organization/ World Health Organization supporting countries to design and implement food and nutrition public policies as well as to protect such policies from opposing interests.

The evolution of front-of-package labeling policies as a tool to protect public health in the Americas

Unhealthy eating is closely linked to the most burdensome diseases in the Americas, driven largely by the widespread availability, affordability, and promotion of ultra-processed food products and processed food products that are excessive in sugars, fats, saturated fats, trans fats and sodium. For these reasons, an essential part of the solution requires the use of laws and regulations to reduce the demand for and offer of such products. Front-of-package labeling (FOPL) that allows consumers to easily and correctly identify when products contain excessive amounts of sugars, total fats, saturated fats, trans fats, and sodium is one of the key policy tools to regulate such products and help prevent them from harming diets and health. Learning from a robust body of evidence and best practices, FOPL policies in the Americas have evolved to provide the best available protection for healthy diets and public health. This presentation will feature pre- and post-implementation studies that have informed the design, adoption, implementation, enforcement and improvement of FOPL policies in the Americas for the past two decades. Warning labels have demonstrated to perform best in helping consumers correctly identify products excessive in sugars, fats and sodium, and avoid the most harmful options. The presentation will also feature the evidence on how the adoption of the Pan-American Health Organization nutrient profile model allows the effect of such policy over the understanding, perception and purchase of products to ultimately translate into effective changes in diets helping populations to meet World Health Organization recommendations.