Mexico is one of the world's leading producers of fat children, thanks to the nation's propensity for friend foods and the overwhelming popularity of soft drinks - the country is second only to the United States in soda consumption. Now one brave soft drink company has risen above the rest to combat Mexico's growing childhood obesity epidemic. Are they pulling their product? Making it healthier? No! They're making a video game. A tamagotchi-style game to be exact, where children must guide a character called a Nutrin through everyday choices involving healthy and well-balanced eating. Will it work?
"It's great," Cesar shouted above the din of digital yeehahs, boings, burps and jingles as his class wallowed in their weekly session. "It teaches you what you should eat." The 10-year old's ample frame spilling over his chair belied his claim that he already eats mostly fruit and vegetables and drinks only water, but he was certainly having fun. The conversation was cut short when his nutrin began demanding attention: "I'm hungry," it said.
The game is a part of the company's Live Healthily school program, aimed at teaching children the proper way to eat healthy food and enjoy regular delicious and refreshing Pepsi products. This will of course be as successful as a Smith & Wesson "Don't Shoot At Rival Gangs" campaign, or Columbia's "The Drugs Are For Other Countries" initiative.
Don't worry though, Pepsi isn't using the Live Healthily program for self-promotion. Just ask Jorge Meyer, vice president of corporate affairs of PepsiCo in Mexico.
"We are already producing nutritional products. . .The problem is that Mexicans haven't wanted to buy them."
*finishes his third can of Mountain Dew this morning and sighs* Just sad.
Pepsi tackles childhood obesity with videogames in Mexico [Guardian Unlimited via GEMAGA]