Minister of Health John Boyce wants to impress upon this country’s parents the need to give their children healthier snacks to take to school.
Delivering the feature address at a health fair at the Maurice Byer Polyclinic, St Peter this morning, Boyce lamented that despite the high incidence of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) in Barbados, too many children were still bringing to school foods and snacks that were high in sugar, artificial preservatives and sodium.
The Health Minister also suggested that the key to stemming the prevalence of these NCDs was to inculcate good preventative practices at an early age.
“We want to start as parents, teachers and children to recognize what role we can play in implementing these measures that we talk about. We talk about lunch and a lot of us talk about changing the menu that is being offered in the school meals service. We like to impose restrictions on what is offered outside of our school gates by way of our vendors, but I see the parents buying the corn curls and other sweets for children’s snacks and this is a cause for great concern,” Boyce said.
“There are other options available to us and more and more we must teach our parents about alternatives to the corn curls, which are heavily dosed with things like salt, cheese and preservatives. We need to try to avoid these things as children and think in terms of a healthy diet,” he added.
According to the World Health Organisation’s NCDs Country Profiles for 2014, seven out of every ten deaths in Barbados result from NCDs. The report also states that one quarter of all adults have an NCD and another quarter are at risk, while nine out of every ten women have at least one risk factor compared to eight out of every ten men.
“As a country, as a region and as a world we are faced with what is referred to as non-communicable diseases. These diseases I am afraid can be largely avoided depending on the lifestyle that we adopt. So if we adopt healthy lifestyles now as children our experiences as we get older would be much more healthy and much more enjoyable. So it is not so much about us the older members of our population as it is about the children,” he stressed.