In Panama, around 40% of school-age children and adolescents are overweight; and in young children under five years of age, 13% are overweight. If we take into account data from 2003, when excess weight in schoolchildren was 20% and in young children was 9.4%, we can see that this phenomenon of malnutrition has increased alarmingly in the last 20 years.
In response to this scenario, FAO has accompanied the Ministry of Health (MINSA), and other actors in the food system, in the development of food-based dietary guidelines, which has been useful for the formulation of national policies on food and nutrition, health and agriculture, as well as food and nutrition education programs aimed at promoting healthy eating habits and lifestyles.
The country has made progress in this direction by implementing measures such as the regulation of the sale and consumption of junk food and sugar-sweetened beverages in schools. However, more effective measures are still needed, such as a system of nutritional warning labeling that informs consumers, especially parents, of the risks of consuming products high in sugars, fats and salt.