To identify the corporate political activity (CPA) strategies used by food industry actors during the development of two public health nutrition policies in Central America: Law #570 (taxation of sugar-sweetened beverages) in Panama, and Bill #5504 (labeling and food marketing regulations) in Guatemala.
Instrumental strategies included the establishment of relationships with policy makers and direct lobbying against the proposed public policies. Discursive strategies were mainly criticizing on the unfounded ground that they lacked evidence of effectiveness and will imply negative impacts on the economy. The industry pointed at individuals for making their own food choices, in order to shift the focus away from the role of its products in contributing to ill-health.
We provide evidence of the political practices used by the food industry to interfere with the development and implementation of public health nutrition policies to improve diets in Central America. Policy makers, public health advocates and the public should be informed about those practices and develop counter-strategies and arguments to protect public and policies from the vested interests of the food industry.