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UTech partners with Nestlé, Consumer Affairs for Healthy Eating Campaign

Published:Monday | July 13, 2015 | 12:00 AM
Dr Fitzroy Henry
Jurg Blaser, country manager for Nestlé Jamaica.
Ambassador Burchell Whiteman

The University of Technology, Jamaica (UTech), in partnership with Nestlé  Jamaica Limited and the Consumer Affairs Commission, is scheduled to launch a Healthy Eating campaign next Tuesday at it's Papine campus.

The launch follows research findings of a UTech study on the 'Cost of Healthy Eating in Jamaica', led by Professor Fitzroy Henry, professor of Public Health Nutrition, College of Health Sciences, UTech, which used a biological benchmark to quantitatively assess vulnerability of families.

The study compared the cost of eating a standard diet from six food groups, using healthy and less healthy foods, utilising a wide range of health criteria. The researchers also compared the cost of what is commonly eaten with what could be the cheapest possible way to obtain a 2,400-kcal balanced diet.

The study revealed that it costs $88 more ($490 versus $402) to eat healthy for one day. This $88 (US$0.78) compares with US$1.47 (average) from 27 studies in 10 countries.

The researchers concluded, however, it is possible to eat healthy for $269 per day, the equivalent of the cost of a food basket. Professor Henry noted, for a family of three, this means $5,649 per week, is equivalent to the minimum wage.

Noting that most households are larger than three persons and that this figure does not include cost of fuel, time and other ingredients, the researchers concluded serious consideration should be given to reviewing the minimum wage.

value-for-money information

The research team further recommended the strengthening of national efforts to provide appropriate value-for-money information to consumers with respect to food prices and their nutritional value.

Recommendations from the study also indicate that "good nutrition is found in our local foods, and multi-sector partnerships can help to educate consumers in their journey to good health."

It is in this regard that the Consumer Affairs Commission (CAC), the government agency charged "to inform, educate and empower consumers to protect themselves in the marketplace", has partnered with UTech on the campaign initiative.

The CAC will provide the required value-added information on its website and will conduct follow-up activities for the Healthy Eating campaign.

Sponsor Nestlé  Jamaica has committed more than $2 million in funding support for more than two years of the Healthy Eating campaign, as well as for student-capacity building and research.

Jurg Blaser, country manager, Nestlé  Jamaica, and ambassador Burchell Whiteman, acting president, UTech, will sign a memorandum of understanding during the launch, formalising the collaboration between the two entities.

Blaser noted that this initiative was part of Nestlé 's continuing support to improve health and nutritional well-being of Jamaicans, noting, "as the global leader in nutrition, health and wellness, we embrace our responsibility to educate our consumers, empowering them to make better food choices for the health of their families.

"Nestlé  has come on board, showing consumers the cost and nutrient benefit of preparing a pot of soup for a family of four, versus a curried-chicken dish."

timely study

"This initiative communicates Nestlé's continued commitment to creating shared value, he added.

The UTech study is timely, as it is in keeping with the recent launch of the Ministry of Health's national food-based dietary guidelines.

"Together, they signal an important advance in tackling nutrition problems, particularly obesity and non-communicable diseases in Jamaica," Whiteman pointed out.

A wide cross section of food-industry partners, representatives from United Nations agencies, academia and professional organisations, are expected to be in attendance at the campaign launch.

The launch ceremony will include a presentation of the results of the UTech study, which triggered this campaign as well as a demonstration by CAC on how consumers can easily access web-based information on low-cost healthy meals.