Diet, sugary drinks, and obesity in Peru


Upon receiving the 2016 UC Berkeley Center for Global Public Health (CGPH) Reporting Fellowship, this summer my photojournalism project captured how dietary changes in Trujillo, Peru are contributing to the rise of non-communicable diseases such as obesity and Type II diabetes in Trujillo. This research project is the first piece of written and photo documentation of its kind that has captured how dietary changes are fueling a nutritional public health crisis that is disproportionately affecting women and children. Qualitative data was gathered via photography and interviews with community members. Homestays, networking, and community meetup groups provided an intimate experience to ask ethnographic questions and capture the food environment on film. The soaring popularity of eating out shows that the trend is shifting from eating home-cooked meals to eating cheap, fast food. The unforeseen costs of this convenience is compromising the population’s health, as foods eaten out of the home tend to be higher in sugar, salt, and fat. Traveling outside of Trujillo highlighted the diversity and regional differences between those living on the coast versus in the highlands, jungle, and desert. Such diversity amplifies the complexity of creating a national strategy to address salient public health issues in Peru. In conclusion, these observations suggest that a singular national policy to address obesity in Peru would be an ineffective use of resources. Instead, region-specific policies and local interventions that are individually tailored to these diverse groups of people are more likely to have an impressionable impact. The results will be presented at the CGPH Fall Symposium and the photojournalism pieces can be found on 1. 2. The CLAS blog 3. On the CGPH blog 4. An upcoming edition of UC Berkeley’s GradNews. There are several other pending publications. Additionally, an abstract has been submitted to the Public Policies for Health Impact Conference in Montreal, Quebec. Other prior international work experiences include molecular biology research at the University of Zürich, Switzerland, and working for a start-up created with a few college friends called GiveYourGap. In 8 months I traveled to 17 counties to profile NGOs on our website with a mission to inspire other young people to volunteer, intern, or work in the nonprofit world.

Shane Fallon
Publication date: 
August 27, 2016
Publication type: 
Student Research