Heart disease, stroke and diabetes cost the taxpayer $64 million to treat, acting Minister of Education Senator Lucille Moe revealed today.
She said: “We have seen from the World Health Organisation (WHO) figures that the Government of Barbados has spent approximately $64M dollars a year on cardiovascular diseases and diabetes.
“We can all agree that this extravagant cost to Government has resulted from poor dietary habits and unhealthy food choices. Let me remind you that this figure will increase substantially if the dietary habits of all school-aged children are not changed.”
The minister implored parents and guardians to be aware of the foods that they feed their children.
She said: “My appeal to parents and caregivers of our nation’s children is to be cognizant of the pivotal role in making this campaign a success.
“We are adults and we must always be aware that the way in which we nourish and nurture our children from infancy will impact on what they do at present and what they will do in the future and how they will develop in the future.”
Senator Moe was speaking at the launch of the Switch It Up: Protect Our Children mass media campaign the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre.
She said Barbadians must seek to reduce their thirst for sugary drinks and have a more active lifestyle.
She added: “The school should continue to reinforce its best practices of this campaign and continue their Water Wednesdays and their Fruit Fridays as well as have a vibrant physical education programme.
“The vendors around our learning institutions must be mindful that they too must play a part in feeding our nation’s children. In addition, the community too can also play a part by leading by example.”
With childhood obesity rates in the Caribbean being higher than the global average, therefore, Barbadians must play their part in eradicating obesity, she said.
“Our children need our intervention let us do our part, let us strive to stamp out this scourge. Let us strive to live healthy lives free of obesity,” she said.