The Heart and Stroke Foundation today called for legislation to combat childhood obesity on the island.
Heart and Stroke Foundation CEO Michelle Daniel made the call as the charity launched a media campaign, Switch it up: protect our children at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre.
She said: “The push for transformational change at the policy and legislative level is critical for defining and developing the right environment to allow for behavioural change at the national level.
“We are aware and there are statistics to show that childhood obesity is harming Barbados through its impact on the health and social fabric on the island.
“Thirty-one per cent of our children in Barbados are obese and overweight and eight out of every ten deaths in Barbados are as a result of non-communicable diseases.”
Her organisation joined in the call with the Healthy Caribbean Coalition, the George Alleyne Planning Disease Research Center, Barbados Cancer Society, The Barbados Diabetes Foundation, The Diabetes Foundation of Barbados, The Breast-Feeding and Child Nutrition Foundation of Barbados, The Christian Council of Barbados, The Barbados Muslim Association and JG’s Fitness.
Daniel said: “If current trends continue the number of overweight or obese infants and young children globally would increase to 70 million by 2025.
“Childhood obesity is associated with a wide range of serious health complications and an increase of premature onset of illness including diabetes and heart disease.”
Her comment was supported by Senior Medical Officer of Health (NCD’s) in the Ministry of Health and Wellness, Dr. Arthur Phillips, who said despite the cost that intervening measures have on Government, it was a cost that would be beneficial in the lives of Barbadians in the future.
“To not intervene is not an option. Although the burden is huge and the causation is complex, we have to intervene because that gives us the best change against lowering the impacts of obesity,” he said.
Harrison College student Tahira Mann, 13, reinforced the messages performed a piece entitled Beware of Me Obesity. In the piece, she was the physical representation of obesity and told the audience that they are to blame for some of the obese children in the island as they continue to feed them sweetened beverages and snacks.
Members of the audience including students from primary and secondary schools across the island also got a chance to participate in a humourous skit with Carl Alf Padmore and Asher Dynamo Murrell.