Minister of Health and Wellness Lieutenant Colonel Jeffrey Bostic says Government is fully committed to reducing the level of childhood obesity on the island. Bostic was delivering remarks on the behalf of Prime Minister Mia Mottley at the launch of the Childhood Obesity Advocacy campaign hosted by the Heart and Stroke Foundation, on wednesday.
Acknowledging that the growth in obesity has been rapid and has worsened within recent years, Bostic stressed that it was important for the disease to be dealt with.
“Childhood obesity is an important issue in Barbados due to its impact and there is clear evidence for a range of cost-effective strategies to reduce the burden on individuals and society.
Childhood obesity is harming Barbados through its impact on the health and social fabric of the island. Not only is the burden of obesity in children large but it is projected to continue growing unless we take decisive action.
It is reported by researchers of the University of the West Indies that in 1987, 8.5 per cent of Barbadian school children were obese. In 2010, the number was 32.5 per cent and in 2013 it is projected to be 50 per cent,” he said.
Bostic told the Frank Collymore Hall audience which included Governor General Dame Sandra Mason and Minister of Information, Broadcasting and Public Affairs Senator Lucille Moe, that his ministry will do everything in its power to protect Barbadian children from childhood obesity.
“The ministry recognizes that the most feasible option for addressing the issue is prevention. Our efforts as a ministry are driven by an understanding that childhood obesity risk begins before birth and therefore that various stakeholders have important roles to play in addressing the issue.
The ministry pledges to work in partnership with a variety of agencies to ensure that we deliver on our mandate of improving the health of Barbadians including combatting NCD’s which is the largest burden before us.”
He also outlined some of the major contributing factors to the disease.
“Obesity is driven by various issues such as genetics, eating practices and physical activity levels. It includes physical education at school, safe public spaces, sidewalks, screen time and other drivers.
Eating practices are influenced by health literacy, the home environment, food systems for production and distribution, including marketing.”
During the ceremony, the Governor General signed the National Accord against childhood obesity. (AGB)