Let’s talk about… how the food we have available to us contributes to obesity: Heart Foundation of Jamaica
World Obesity Day: Changing Perspectives: Let’s Talk About Obesity
As we observe this year’s World Obesity Day on March 4th under the theme “Changing Perspectives: Let’s Talk About Obesity” The Heart Foundation of Jamaica would like to take the opportunity to stress the need for a comprehensive approach to curbing the increasing trends in overweight/obesity in Jamaica. Currently one in two Jamaicans 15 years or older and 23% of our school children aged 13-17 years are overweight and or obese.
Unhealthy diets are a major risk factor contributing to the high rates of obesity and non-communicable diseases (NCDs) in the Caribbean. In Jamaica more than 66% of adolescents aged 15-19 years consume fast food most days of the week, and more than 69% of children aged 13-17 years drink carbonated soft drinks one or more times per day. Meanwhile, the country is grappling with 80% of deaths caused by non-communicable diseases (NCDs).
The widespread availability and consumption of ultra-processed products containing high levels of “critical nutrients”, namely added sugars, total fats, saturated fats, trans fats and sodium have become more accessible and appealing than their healthier alternatives.
Efforts to address this worrying trend are challenging as there is no single solution. We need supportive environments and communities which are fundamental in shaping people’s choices. We would like to highlight two such solutions, that of making the healthier choices the easier choice. We can do this by
- Implementing Front of Package Warning Labels to help Jamaicans make more informed food choices
- Improving our school food environment, and the implementation of a national school nutrition policy which will encourage consumption of healthier options
The time to act is now! Our children’s lives are at stake! Healthy children grow to become healthy adults. We must all work together to ensure happier, healthier and longer lives for everybody.
Contact: K Morrish Cooke
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