Much Focus on Consumer Movement March 15


The Consumer Affairs Commission (CAC) will join consumer groups around the world in observing World Consumer Rights Day, on March 15 under the theme: ‘Unhealthy Food Promotion: Unhealthy Children’.
Speaking with JIS News, Chief Executive Officer at the CAC, Dolsie Allen, said that the annual celebration provided the opportunity to focus on and solidify the national and international consumer movement. “Consumers are all of us and make up the largest economic group affected by almost every public and private economic decision, yet we are the only important group whose views are often not heard,” Mrs. Allen argued. “At this time,” she added, “special effort is being undertaken to promote the basic rights of all consumers and protest the market abuses, which threaten to undermine them.”
The CEO noted that the chosen theme highlights the issue of unhealthy consumption, the promotion and marketing of ‘junk’ food to children and the consequences of obesity, diabetes and irreversible illnesses, which are elements of poor nutrition and a lack of proper exercise and diet. “This is an important issue, because worldwide there is a problem with our children becoming obesed at a very young age and we believe that part of the problem is the consumption of unhealthy foods that are high in salt, sugar, oils and fats,” Mrs. Allen said.
Citing statistics from the Ministry of Health’s 2006 Health Survey, she pointed out that for the year, 25 per cent of adolescents 15 to 19 years; 20 per cent of children 9 to 11 years and 6 per cent from age zero to five were over-weight. As a means of initiating behavioural change and policy, the CAC is advocating for the compulsory labelling of foods to show the nutritional content.
“The CAC is asking that fast food restaurants and wherever fast food is sold, give more information in terms of the calorie count and the nutritional value of these products that they are selling, so consumers can make informed buying decisions,” Mrs. Allen urged.
To observe World Consumer Rights Day, the CAC in collaboration with the National Consumers’ League, will be staging several activities, including a church service at the Saxthorpe Methodist Church on Sunday, March 16; mini exhibits highlighting the theme, at libraries islandwide; and the dissemination of a message from Minister of Industry, Investment and Commerce (MIIC), Karl Samuda at churches and schools across the island.
World Consumer Rights Day was first observed on March 15, 1983, and has since become an important occasion for mobilising citizen action. The CAC is an agency of the MIIC, with a mandate to safeguard the rights of consumers and promote responsibility among them.

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