Obese children are not only at higher risk for hypertension, high cholesterol, heart disease, diabetes and some cancers, but they might also experience social and psychological problems such as discrimination, bullying, low self-esteem and social isolation.
This was asserted by Minister of Health Minister, John Boyce as he was speaking at the opening ceremony of a meeting convened by the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA), in collaboration with the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) and CARICOM, to discuss the issue of childhood obesity in the Caribbean.
Pointing out that the region was in the midst of a childhood obesity epidemic, Minister Boyce submitted: “As a Caribbean region, we have faltered in our response to the epidemic of childhood obesity, with many countries in the region reporting prevalence rates in excess of 30 per cent in the pre-teen and teenage population.”
In Barbados, he said, one challenge was that the diet of many Barbadians had deviated from the consumption of locally grown, homemade food, to imported foods, high in salt, added sugars and trans fat, and noted that the problem was made worse by decreased physical activity.
The Health Minister stated, that his ministry, under the Barbados Childhood Obesity Prevention Programme (BCHOPP), aims to strengthen breastfeeding practices; promote physical activity; implement the concept of health promoting schools; strengthen coordination and management of obesity prevention; and develop and implement dietary regulating and fiscal policies.
- According to PAHO, the number of overweight children in the Caribbean has doubled in the last 10 years,
- The World Health Organization estimates that of the 42 million overweight children under the age of five globally, close to 31 million are from middle and low-income countries.
- According to the Global School Health Survey, 18.5 per cent of Barbadian school children, aged 13 to 15, ate fast food three or more days a week and 70 per cent drank carbonated sweet drinks once a day.