New approach to fight obesity
CANTEEN OPERATORS and the School Meals Department are to get more technical assistance from Government in tackling increasing obesity among schoolchildren as part of the battle against the rising tide of non-communicable diseases (NCDs).
And Cabinet has already started on a proposal for an inter-ministerial working group to advance prevention and control of NCDs.
This was disclosed yesterday by Minister of Health John Boyce as he officially launched Phase 2 of the Theatre In Education (Edu-Drama) project at Holy Innocents Primary School, St Thomas.
“This is going to be a leading approach in the region,” Boyce said, “and it is certainly something of which we can be very proud, to have reached the stage where we are now recommending to Cabinet that we treat this NCD programme not just as a health programme, but as an inter-ministerial programme where the Ministries of Health, Education and Sport can come together in considering the best options that are available to us in implementing that programme.”
The Edu-Drama project, based on “a play-in-a-day” theatre in education concept, is a healthy lifestyle initiative for primary school students, sponsored by the National NCD Commission and the Ministries of Health and Education in collaboration with Sagicor Life Inc.
It was successfully piloted in three schools in 2012-2013 and will be extended to seven others in this school year.
Boyce said the focus would be on pointing children towards making sensible decisions about nutrition and physical activity “which will help them to avoid the challenges of living with NCDs such as diabetes, heart disease, hypertension, cancer or stroke later on in their lives.
“Our desire to intensify our efforts in health education is supported by evidence which indicates that obesity in children is an emerging trend and one that we should be concerned about,” he added.
“A study in 2012 indicated that approximately 30 per cent of school-aged children in Barbados were overweight or obese. As you are aware, obesity is one of the main risk factors for developing NCDs.
“Clearly, as policymakers, parents and guardians, we must accept that if our children are at risk, we have a duty to address that threat, to ensure that our children will have every opportunity to realise their full potential.”
The minister noted that having good health was a key resource that everyone needed to pursue their goals in education, to contribute to the further development of the island and to lead fulfilling lives.
“Therefore, there is a need for early intervention to reverse this dangerous trend in obesity among our children,” Boyce said. (AB)
Please see also Pages 16A and 17A.