Yesterday we launched Consumers International’s (CI) 'Manual for monitoring food marketing to children', in Jamaica. The launch was undoubtedly a success. For me the best moment of the day was a young lady who came to CI’s office after the launch to ask for a copy so she can review its applicability to her work in food standards.
The launch was at the picturesque campus of the St George’s High School in downtown Kingston, behind the world famous Sabina cricket ground.
Ms Dolsie Allen, CEO of the Consumer Affairs Commission of Jamaica, introduced the manual, citing some statistics of the increasing prevalence of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) in the Caribbean region.
Protests over fried chicken
The principal of St George’s High School, Ms Campbell, said she took fried chicken off the menu of the school cafeteria for three days of the week at the all-boys high school - this resulted in protests on the campus. She was very happy to be associated with the launch of the manual and recommended that the policy makers and planners use it to monitor the marketing of food to Jamaica’s children.
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The manual was then officially presented to the Minister.
Over 70% of women in Caribbean obese
The head of the Caribbean Food and Nutrition Institute headquartered in Jamaica, Dr Fitzroy Henry, shocked the audience by informing them that statistics indicate that more than 70 percent of women and more than 10 percent of pre-schoolers in the Caribbean were obese. He observed that the manual will be an important tool for his institute in their work in reversing these unwelcome trends in the region, contending that obesity in children affects their brain development.
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Fresh fruit for the audience
The program ended with a thank you by Dr Lisa Lawrence of the National Consumers League. Dr Lawerence thanked everybody for a morning well spent. The audience that included representatives of the Jamaica Standards Bureau, Ministry of Education Food Feeding Programme, the Advertisement Association of Jamaica, Caribbean Food and Nutrition Institute, advocates for children, youth organisations, and youth magazine reporters were then treated to some fresh local fruits and juices.
The launch also represented for me another great collaboration between the CI project office and its Jamaican members, the National Consumer League and the Consumer Affairs Commission. I would also be remiss not to mention, Gisele Perry, CI project assistant, who worked tirelessly in making this event a success.
It is our hope to replicate this activity in Trinidad and Tobago as well as some of the other Eastern Caribbean states as part of Consumers International's work in the Caribbean.