The Fiji Beverage Group (FBG)is the first major industry sector in Fiji to have collectively responded to calls from Government to help reduce the incidence of non-communicable diseases (NCD’s).
Group members, who include all of Fiji’s major beverage companies, signed a Memorandum of Understanding in August 2013 that sets out how each company undertakes to support a healthier Fiji.
Each company has under-taken to ensure there is; no marketing to children under 12 years of age, increased availability of lower energy beverages and continued support for initiatives that promote healthy active living and also low and no energy beverages.
Lawrence Tikaram, National Manager, Convenience & Leisure, Coca-Cola Amatil says, “Because there is no single solution to combating obesity, the FBG has taken a multipronged approach. Internationally self-regulation by the food and beverage industry has been shown to be an effective way to achieve healthier diets for children.
The FBG has adapted this approach for Fiji because we want to ensure people can enjoy our products in healthy ways now and in the future. We want our consumers to make informed decisions about the choices they make and provide them with the literature and awareness to do so.”
Obesity, a major contributor to NCDs in Fiji, occurs when someone consistently consumes more energy from their foods and beverages than they are able to burn off. No single food or drink is to blame and a healthy diet means variety and moderation. All non-alcoholic beverages can be enjoyed as part of a balanced and varied diet but the types and amounts each person is best to drink depends on their lifestyle, level of activity and overall diet.
Says Jilyin Wong, Executive Director, Tappoo Group, “All FBG members share the concerns of our health and education leaders around the alarming rate of NCD’s in Fiji. More focus must also be placed on supporting informed choice. Parents and caregivers in particular need to be provided with support not criticism. The FBG will soon launch a website that offers simple information on enjoying beverages as part of a healthy diet and lifestyle.”
The 2004 Fiji National Nutrition Survey showed that over 80% of sugar Fijian’s sugar intake is from granular sugar and sweets while less than 8% is from cold beverages (including orange juice, cordials and sweetened milk drinks). Over 75% of Fijian’s sugar intake is plain brown sugar, used in foods and drinks such as tea at home, while sugar from soft drinks is less than 3%, or around one gram of sugar per day, although there will be groups of people who over-consume.
Self-regulation allows industry to do what it does best – compete, innovate, communicate and educate – drawing on the unique expertise and resources of the private sector.