Pepsi sponsors "eat healthy" game in Mexico

Posted by Mark Raby

Mexico City (Mexico) - The obesity crisis in Mexico is dangerously close to where it is in the US, and a new idea has popped up with two major ironic players - a junk food company and video games.

PepsiCo's Mexican division has begun a new campaign that encourages children to eat healthy.  Called "Live Healthily", the program centers on a pocket-sized video game reminiscent of the popular Tamagotchi virtual pets.  Instead of a furry creature, though, players control a human being and are told to feed him only healthy foods and also to exercise.

In Mexico, it is actually cheaper to find sugared sodas than clean water, and junk food is more readily available than fruits or vegetables.  Moreover, governmental attempts to restrict these kinds of weight-gaining food have failed.  This has led to the country being in one of the worst situations with regard to monitoring and controlling healthy behavior.

PepsiCo, which produces not only Pepsi but also Frito Lay snack foods, hopes this will help remove them as a target from the problem.  The company has substantial ties to school systems and TV advertising, both of which have been threatened by proposed laws.

"We don't want to be seen as the guilty ones. We want to be seen as part of the solution," said Jorge Meyer, president of corporate affairs for PepsiCo's Mexican operations.