A name synonymous with children’s health in Barbados for more than three decades is now attached to the post of chairperson of the Barbados Childhood Obesity Prevention Coalition (BCOP Coalition).
Professor Anne St John, a consultant paediatrician, children’s health advocate, and the lead policy champion for the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Barbados (HSFB) and the BCOP Coalition, will be at the helm of the organisation for the 2023-2024 period.
She was elected at a BCOP Coalition Workshop last Wednesday.
“I am humbled to have been elected to the position of Chair of the BCOP Coalition, being quite aware that it carries a tremendous sense of purpose, with high expectations towards the accomplishment of the goals set by the organisation in relation to healthy nutrition and lifestyles, especially related to children of the nation,” Professor St John said after her election.
The BCOP Coalition has a membership of 30 civil society organisations, in addition to individual members and youth advocates, all with the singular goal of advocating for the suite of policies identified by the World Health Organisation to decrease the alarming levels of childhood obesity in countries like Barbados. About 31 per cent of children in Barbados are obese or overweight.
BCOP Coalition pointed out that Professor St John has been a very hands-on advocate and champion for childhood obesity prevention from the beginning of the Childhood Obesity Prevention Project in 2018, sensitising policymakers, parents, children, principals, teachers and staff at various schools around the island.
It added that especially during the COVID-19 pandemic, her voice and reasoning became linked to the School Nutrition Policy which has generated much interest across Barbados.
Now, looking forward to the implementation of other evidence-based policies like the use of octagonal front-of-package warning labels, which can simultaneously assist in reducing the levels of childhood obesity in Barbados, she said: “The right to know what are the ingredients in what we consume goes hand in hand with the adaptation, intervention and use of octagonal front-of-package warning labels (O-FOPWL) on consumables, assisting consumers in making healthy choices of food and drink.”
Programme Manager of the Childhood Obesity Prevention Project for HSFB Francine Charles said it was an honour for the BCOP Coalition to be led by one of the most ardent voices for children’s health in Barbados.
She said Professor St John “has a passion and a voice to ensure children in Barbados have optimal health and we have watched her advocate effectively to every possible audience, so we are heartened to work with her as chair of the Coalition”. (PR)