Subsequent to the significant expression of concern about childhood obesity signalled in the recently launched CADRES public opinion poll, the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Barbados (HSFB) highly commends the Government of Barbados for its announcement to implement relevant policies, strong measures and incentives to address childhood obesity and non-communicable diseases (NCDs) in Barbados during the Budget on Wednesday March 20, 2019.
As the Prime Minister, the Honourable Mia Mottley, indicated, the incidence of NCDs in Barbados “is at crisis level”. As a result, we welcome the thoughtfulness and emphasis on this growing challenge expressed by the Government of Barbados last Wednesday.
The evidence is clear that childhood obesity is directly linked to the onslaught of diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, cancer and hypertension as children grow older. The current rate of obesity and overweight in Barbados is 31 per cent, and research shows that this epidemic is significantly linked to unhealthy lifestyle approaches, including an excess intake of added sugars in sugar-sweetened beverages; foods high in sodium and sugar; and a lack of regular exercise.
There is an immediate need to address the issues of obesity and childhood obesity through strong government policies and educational programmes.
The Heart and Stroke Foundation was heartened by the response of over 800 Barbadians interviewed during a CADRES poll at the end of 2018, where 92 per cent of Barbadians stated that they would support a national policy aimed at creating healthier school environments across Barbados. Ninety per cent of the public polled also felt it was important for Government to play a role in reducing obesity in Barbados.
As civil society, we stand committed to support the Government in the required public education and in the development of the relevant policies.
Heart and Stroke Foundation of Barbados