Implication of Consumers’ Purchasing Decisions on Health

September 24, 2021

Most Fijians are currently staying indoors to minimize exposure and comply with COVID safe measures as recommended by the Ministry of Health and Medical Services. While we stay indoors, there is great temptation to eat snacks high in sodium, junk food and low-quality meals that provide instant gratification for taste buds rather than nutrient-dense whole foods. In addition to this, today, there is a potential for a more sedentary lifestyle that is packed with activities like watching television for longer periods, sitting and reading for hours or spending more time in front of the computer or on our smart phones. Just few months back, our lifestyles were very different and involved many physical activities like workouts, moving around shopping for groceries and spending time with family by doing activities such as picnics.

However, such sedentary and unhealthy lifestyle should not become part of the new norm for consumers. Today, apart from the current pandemic, the world is also facing a major health crisis because of non-communicable diseases such as obesity, high blood pressure and diabetes. Fiji is no exception in this, as in certain non-communicable diseases such as diabetes, we are world leaders. Presently, 1 in every 3 persons in Fiji is diabetic. The morbid lifestyles which many may be adopting right now will only further escalate the severity of NCDs in Fiji.

This demonstrates that there a need for a transformation in the consumption patterns of Fijian consumers towards healthier and sustainable choices. We must remember that consumer choice of food is central to containing the growing health crisis related to non-communicable diseases.

So, what should consumers do to maintain a healthy and active lifestyle routine in the new normal?

• Avoid emotional eating and go green: Practice self-discipline and avoid “emotional eating” due to stress that may be related to the drastic changes surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic. Whole foods like dark, leafy greens, oranges and tomatoes—even fresh herbs— are loaded with vitamins, fibre and minerals. Make it a habit to try to eat more whole nutritious foods instead of processed snacks or fast food.

• Avoid processed food – There has been various research and studies carried out which enforces that link between consumption of processed food to NCD’s. Therefore, instead of purchasing processed food, consumers should opt to buy fresh food from the market. For instance, instead of buying canned fruits, buy fresh fruits from the local market. You will not only be buying healthier foods, but also supporting local vendors.

• Go for organic – Consumers can also look for organically grown food as it does not contain any chemicals such as pesticides or hormones. Organic foods have been proven to be not only healthier and safer for consumption, but also its production does not harm the environment.

• Grow your own – While staying home during this pandemic, consumers can work on their own backyard gardens. This will ensure that you have a continuous supply of fresh produce while at the same time, get some physical exercise. By doing back yard gardening you will also save the money that would otherwise be spent on buying from stores. This practice will also limit unnecessary movement.

• Know what you are buying – When out shopping, consumers should read the nutritional labels and ingredients of the food products they are planning to purchase. You may be surprised to see that certain products do not have any nutritional value and are packed with sugar and calories which you do not need.

• Teach your kids to make healthier choices – Often, parents give in to their child’s urge for sugary and snacks. Remember, making healthy choices starts from a very young age. It is important to remember that your kids are not born with a craving for French fries and pizza and an aversion to cabbage and carrots. This conditioning happens over time as they are exposed to more and more unhealthy food choices. However, it is possible to reprogram your children’s food preferences so that they crave healthier foods instead. The sooner you introduce wholesome, nutritious choices into a child’s diet, the easier they will be able to develop a healthy relationship with food that can last them a lifetime. Help create a next generation of healthy conscious consumers.

• Stay active: The gyms may not be open, however, there are lots of safe alternatives to getting physical activity without violating the best practices recommended by the Ministry of Health like social distancing and avoiding large crowds. An example of this is Aerobics, which can be done successfully at home. Another important point to consider is that avoiding crowds does not mean avoiding nature. Going for a brisk walk or jogging outside in uncrowded areas is still considered relatively safe. Push-ups, sit-ups, jumping-jacks and other exercises are great ways to stay fit away from the gym.

• Cope with stress and anxiety: Stress and anxiety are common during such times of crisis. Studies have shown that such factors may also be linked to NCDs such as hypertension and cardiac conditions. Hence, in order to ensure that we are physically and mentally healthy, purchasing decisions made by Fijian consumers should revolve around protective foods which boosts our immune systems and health so that our bodies are able to better handle stress.

Please be aware that although eating nutritious foods, physical activity, adequate rest and taking care of our mental health makes us more resilient, it’s not a cure nor does it guarantee immunity from contracting COVID-19. In addition to these suggestions, first and foremost be sure to practice Ministry of Health and Medical Service’s guidance on social distancing, self-care, self-quarantine, wearing of face masks and talking with health officials about any concerns you may have regarding your health.

For any consumer concerns please contact the Council on toll free number 155 or email complaints@consumersfiji.org. Alternatively, consumers can lodge complaints via the Consumer Council of Fiji App available for download on google play store.


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