Wellness bodies hope sugar price increase will ”curb consumption’

Picture: FILE

The overconsumption of sugar, salt, oil, and processed foods are all major contributors to the prevalence of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) in Fiji – a crisis that is claiming lives and creating serious suffering for many Fijians.

Dr Devina Nand, the head of Wellness Fiji – the implementing body of the Fiji Policy on Food and Nutrition Security and the National Wellness Policy for Fiji – made the comment in a statement in response to the price increase of sugar.

She said given the severe negative health effects of overconsuming sugar, sugar-sweetened beverages, and sugar-filled processed foods, the organisation together with Diabetes Fiji hoped that this would “curb sugar consumption by members of the public and promote healthier alternatives, such as natural honey”.

She said Pacific island countries suffered some of the highest rates of NCDs like hypertension, cardiovascular disease and diabetes, in the world.

Dr Nand said according to the Ministry of Health and Medical Services, a total of 5700 deaths in 2020 were attributed to complications related to NCDs.

She also cited the Economic Burden Report Fiji 2018 that stated the total burden of NCDs on Fijian society – because of lost hours of work and healthcare needs – was estimated to be $406million annually.

She said it was a shame that unhealthy options filled consumer shopping baskets “when Fiji has so many fresh fruits and vegetables and other nutritious food options”.

“Changing consumer habits is a slow-going but essential effort that helps to build a more nutrition secure Fiji,” Dr Nand said in a Government statement.

“Programmes, like the ‘Grow Your Own Food”, a home gardening initiative by the Ministry of Agriculture in partnership with the MHMS, the ‘Grow Your Own Food’ booklet, and the My Kana app (available on Play Store) are excellent ways forward.

“And we hope, over the long-term, to see unhealthy options, like sugar, fall to more responsible levels of consumption.”

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