Influence of Food Packaging on Children's Energy-dense Snack Food Preferences in Guatemala

Childhood obesity is a major global public health concern. Rates of obese and overweight children have increased in low- and middle-income countries such as Guatemala. This research will study the influence of food packaging on Guatemalan preschool and school-aged children's energy-dense snack (EDS) food preferences.

In 2010, the World Health Organization urged countries to restrict unhealthy food marketing directed at children, including marketing that promotes foods high in saturated fats and sodium, and beverages such as soft drinks.

Guatemala is currently struggling with obesity and malnutrition. Both undernutrition and overnutrition co-exist. The most recent data available (2002) estimates that 5.4% of preschool children are obese, and the number is likely rising. In urban areas, that number rose from 3.7% in 1995 to 7.2% in 2000.

There is no recent published data on the prevalence of obesity in school-aged children in Guatemala. However, preliminary data from the Institute of Nutrition of Central America and Panama and the Comprehensive Center for the Prevention of Chronic Diseases shows that 25% of urban schoolchildren and 12% of those living in communities on the outskirts of urban areas are overweight.

As with tobacco, marketing plays a key role in the obesity epidemic. Food promotion and food packaging branded with licensed characters have a direct effect on children's food preferences, knowledge, and behaviours.

Based on lessons learned from the tobacco control movement, banning licensed characters on advertising will help decrease children's product recognition. This research will support policymakers in their efforts to regulate food marketing in Guatemala and address the country's childhood obesity problem.

Project ID


Project status


Start Date

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

End Date

Thursday, August 7, 2014


24 months

IDRC Officer

Geneau, Robert

Total funding

CA$ 116,300


Guatemala, North and Central America, South America, Panama


Food, Environment, and Health

Project Leader

Dr. Joaquin Bamoya


Fundación Aldo Castañeda

Institution Country


Institution Website