Improving Chile's Diet

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Student Research Reports, Summer 2018

 Claire Boone with local students and collaborators at the School of Government, Universidad Catolica de Chile in Santiago. (Photo by Claire Boone.)
Claire Boone with local students and collaborators at the School of Government, Universidad Catolica de Chile in Santiago. (Photo by Claire Boone.)

Improving Chile's Diet
By Claire Boone

I first became interested in non-communicable diseases and their intersection with poverty when I was a during my masters of public health, when spent 3 months in Rio de Janeiro studying diabetes and hypertension. I was very interested in why, with free and available medications, and an active community health worker system the majority of patients still didn’t have their diseases under control. Now, as a health policy PhD student I am especially interested in non-communicable disease policy. I travelled to Chile this summer to better understand the structural and behavioral reasons for uncontrolled non-communicable diseases (primarily hypertension and diabetes). While in Chile I collaborated with researchers at the University Catolica de Chile in Santiago to evaluate an innovative health care program: the text message appointment reminder system for non-communicable disease patients. This evaluation will not only help us to better understand reasons for continued non-control of disease in a population that has free healthcare and medications, but will also assist the ministry of health in understanding the direct and indirect effects of the program. Our results show positive externalities: the number of appointments for patients not enrolled in the program increased due to the program, as the text message included a rescheduling option. We are now in the process of gaining access to individual level-health data to attempt to measure the health effects of this and other programs. 

With the large variation in income per capita and development across cities in Chile, the public health centers come in all shapes and sizes. Shown is the Centro de Salud Familiar at San Pedro de Atacama, a village in Northern Chile. (Photo by Claire Boone.)
With the large variation in income per capita and development across cities in Chile, the public health centers come in all shapes and sizes. Shown is the Centro de Salud Familiar at San Pedro de Atacama, a village in Northern Chile. (Photo by Claire Boone.)

In order to combat rising chronic disease rates, Chile's innovative Food Act Policy, Implemented in 2016 added stop-sign labels to processed foods high in sugars, salts, saturated fats, and calories. (Photo by Claire Boone.)
In order to combat rising chronic disease rates, Chile's innovative Food Act Policy, Implemented in 2016 added stop-sign labels to processed foods high in sugars, salts, saturated fats, and calories. (Photo by Claire Boone.)

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